Mercer Island’s city council has appointed parks and recreation director Jessi Bon to fill in as interim city manager following the recent resignation of Julie Underwood.
Bon will begin working as the interim city manager on June 8. She started working at the city 10 months ago as its parks and recreation director and has more than 20 years of experience in local government, a press release from the city said. She recently served as deputy city manager for Sammamish and was its parks and recreation director for a decade previously.
While Bon is serving as interim city manager, parks and recreation staff will be sharing the responsibility of running the department. Once Bon is in place, the city council will develop a recruitment process for finding a new city manager.
“I am honored to serve as interim city manager,” Bon said in the release. “Julie is a strong and experienced leader. It has been a privilege working with her, and I’m grateful for the energy and vision she brought to the city.”
Bon has lived on Mercer Island since 2010 with her husband and three daughters. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from Seattle University.
“There’s no doubt that Mercer Island faces a tough road ahead, but I believe in this community,” Bon said. “It is a special place, brimming with character and engaged, creative, and resilient residents.”
Outgoing city manager Julie Underwood announced her resignation on May 7 at a city council meeting, notifying city leadership earlier that day. Underwood, at the meeting, said the community was calling for a different style of management, which she later clarified meant the political atmosphere of the city was too divisive. Underwood said it had taken a toll on her and her family’s health and well-being.
Mercer Island is facing a budget crisis after a property levy to fund city services failed on last November’s ballot. The city began cutting services this year in an attempt to keep its budget balanced.
Mercer Island’s most recent city managers have held relatively short tenures. The city managed to retain a single city manager between 1996 and 2013. That was followed by a city manager who worked at the city between 2013 and 2016 and Underwood who was hired to replace him. Two interim city managers also held the position at various points during the transitions.