Incumbent county councilman defends his record against negative campaign accusations

Terry Ryan wants to set the record straight on Friends of Navy Award, his personal role in the aftermath of the deadly Oso landslide
By Dan Aznoff | Oct 19, 2017
Photo by: Dan Aznoff Snohomish County Councilmember Terry Ryan holds up the Friend to the Navy award during a recent visit to the Military Memorial near the Mill Creek Library. The former mayor of Mill Creek responded to critics by showing the plaque he received from Rear Admiral Jim Symonds in 2010 during ceremonies at the Navy base in Everett.



County Councilman Terry Ryan often refers to himself as a Boy Scout because of the clean cut, family image his father told him was an important part of being in public service.

In keeping with the Scout motto, Ryan is prepared to defend himself from accusations brought up against him by his opponent in the November election and some long-time adversaries from Mill Creek.

Ryan’s opponent in the fall runoff for the four-year term to represent District 4 on the county board is Marcus Barton, a self-proclaimed Republican who served for 16 years in the US Army. Barton has questioned the award that Ryan presumably received as a Friend to the Navy in 2010 for his work with veterans in Mill Creek and his service to sailors assigned to the Naval Home Port in Everett.

Barton has questioned both the reality of the award Ryan displays proudly on his personal and professional Facebook site as well as the ethics of using the award in campaign material.

In a Letter to the Editor published in The Beacon, Barton wrote, “I served in the U.S. Army for 16 years and have never heard of such an award, and when I asked Naval Base Everett's Judge Advocate General unit, they said that there is no such award, so I would like to know where he claims to have received this from.

Why is this a big deal? Well, even IF he is using an ACTUAL award from the Navy in campaign materials, it is a violation of DoD Directive 1334.10 and the Hatch Act of 1993 that prohibits the use of military endorsements in political campaigns in any fashion.”

Barton concluded his comments by explasining that Ryan’s actions are a punishable offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

To set the record straight, Ryan brought the plaque given to him by Rear Admiral Jim Symonds while he was Commander, Navy Region Northwest based in Silverdale to an interview with The Beacon.  He also had a letter from the now-retired admiral praising the work Ryan had done for the military personnel who lived and worked in Ryan’s district of Snohomish County.

“I specifically directed that one of our Friends of the Navy Awards be given to Mr. Terry Ryan, the former mayor of Mill Creek, for his conspicuous patriotism and support for the active duty and veteran US Navy sailors in the Northwest.”

The admiral also applauded Ryan in the letter for his leadership that honored “those who died to protect our freedoms” during a Memorial Day ceremony in Mill Creek.

One long-time political rival from Mill Creek claimed that if Ryan did receive an award from the Navy, it was for his role as mayor and should be on display in City Hall and not on the councilman’s bookshelf in his home.

City records of meetings held by committees planning events to honor military veterans refute claims he never attended meetings for Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day ceremonies sponsored by the city. Ryan said he did attend as many meetings as possible with his busy schedule.

The former mayor said he understands why his opponent in the election may ask for verification of his award, but he does not understand why he has become the target of unsubstantiated accusations.

“Remember,” he said with a smile. “I am the Boy Scout.”

As far as the ethics of using an award from the military in campaign materials, Ryan said he was unaware of any such restriction.

“The plaque that I received from the Navy is something I am very proud of,” Ryan said. “Why wouldn’t I want to share it on my personal pages and my campaign website?”


Media circus

Ryan resisted commenting on claims that he tried to score political points during the recovery efforts at the landslide in Oso in 2014. Ryan remembers he made it a point to stay away from the recovery effort for the first 24 hours to allow first responders and FEMA workers the opportunity to do their job “without creating an even larger media circus.”

The councilman asserted he could have justified going to the scene in his capacity as chairman of the Public Works Committee on the county council. He said he was in Oso on 18 of the 20 days following the deadly landslide that killed 43 people and destroyed 49 homes near the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River.

“When I did head north, I tried to work behind the scenes so the professionals could do their job,” Ryan told The Beacon. “People who claim that I showed up just to have my face in the evening news are wrong. I did stay away for the first 24 hours, but after that I tried to limit myself to the tent that housed the Army Corps of Engineers where I could do the most good.”

Ryan was elected to the county council in 2014 after serving Mill Creek for 17 years as mayor and as a member of the city council. His district encompasses Brier, Bothell, Mountlake Terrace and Mill Creek in addition to portions of unincorporated Snohomish County.

The Boy Scout in him boasts that he and his wife, Roberta, have four children, including his eldest son who is enrolled at a seminary.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Marcus Barton | Oct 19, 2017 14:42

I was asked about the questioning of my opponents 'Friend of the Navy' Award again and felt that I should just put the specific reason why everyone should be upset about it.
A couple of years ago, while acting as Mayor, my opponent accepted this award from an admiral that was retiring.
This happens, if a civilian entity does something for a military unit, they are then usually given a plaque or an award as a keepsake. For instance, we had the Army Ball several years ago at Great Wolf Lodge. In return for their assistance, we gave them a unit award of appreciation.
So, I believe this award is real. I am questioning the legality of it. Earlier in the campaign, Terry Ryan published pictures of himself with his brother (Mountlake Terrace City Council Person, Sean Ryan) and a Navy admiral at Fleet Week in Seattle on his campaign website. 
Again, there is nothing wrong with two politicians having their picture taken with a military person and posting it on their personal Facebook or their Official Government website, however, publishing it on a campaign website is technically a federal offense to the military person involved.
I contacted Mr Ryan to let him know about this and he did eventually remove the picture from his campaign website. I also explained to him that the directive also covers any awards that are given that could infer or imply sponsorship or endorsement. He still refuses to remove it from his website.

“Why wouldn’t I want to share it on my personal pages and my campaign website?” Because a boy scout would not want to violate federal law.

So, I guess this means that I can say that I received the prestigious "Friend of the Army" award which just so happens to look like an Enlistment Contract, Five Subsequent Reenlistment Contracts, Three Combat Operation Deployment Orders and one set of Retirement Orders.
I also have received the amazing 'Father of the Year" award and have a mug to prove it.

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