The Lynnwood City Council voted 6-1 Monday night to ask Mayor Don Gough to resign following reports that he was verbally abusive and demeaning to female staff.

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The Lynnwood City Council voted 6-1 Monday night to ask Mayor Don Gough to resign after reports that he was verbally abusive and demeaning to female staff.

The council resolution also directed that all hiring, promotions and disciplinary action taken by the mayor will be subject to council review and approval. The council noted that it had no authority to remove Gough from office.

Speaking before a packed audience, Councilmember Jim Smith said “Between the mayor’s mismanagement of funds and mismanagement of employees, he should resign.”

The action came after an investigation into a claim by his former assistant that he routinely swore at her and insulted her. A follow-up investigation, ordered by the council, raised concerns that Gough had interfered in the probe and had threatened to retaliate against employees who cooperated, according to city council members.

Gough did not attend Monday’s meeting. Council President Ted Hikel, a supporter of the mayor’s, said Gough was recovering from oral surgery. He voted against the resolution.

Hikel warned the council that it was not following the city’s own laws for censuring a mayor, including giving him 20-days notice of the planned action. The council published the censure resolution last week.

Some council members expressed concern that the report upon which it was basing its action has not yet been made public, but the majority said it wanted to protect employees against possible retaliation.

During public testimony after the council voted, Court Administrator Jill O’Cain read a letter on behalf of five female directors and deputy directors complaining of a “hostile working environment” under Gough. O’Cain said the “abusive treatment of female employees” began when Gough took office in 2006 and has deteriorated over time.

O’Cain told the council, “We want you to restore our workplace to a professional environment where we are free to conduct our jobs without harassment, intimidation or abuse.”

The letter also said that each of the five women felt they had potential legal claims against the city because of Gough’s treatment of them.

Gough, who is a full-time mayor, earns $96,000 a year. He was re-elected in 2009.

In March, Gough’s former administrative assistant, Stephanie Simpson, reached a $49,500 settlement with the city. Over the four years that she worked with the mayor, Simpson claimed he mistreated her because of her gender and because she’s a mother.

In settling with Simpson, the city did not admit wrongdoing and Simpson agreed not to sue.

The council ordered an investigation into Simpson’s allegations and was briefed on the findings in executive session July 23. The report is not scheduled to be released publicly until Thursday.

The revolt against Gough comes at the same time Lynnwood is facing an $18 million budget deficit for the 2011-12 biennium. Two weeks ago, the city police union representing more than 100 officers passed an unanimous no-confidence vote over Gough’s handling of the budget, which could result in cuts of up to 25 percent to the department next year.

Lynnwood Police Guild President Mark Brinkman called the budget numbers, released last month, “a bomb dropped on us,” and he criticized Gough in advance of the council meeting for not taking steps to address the budget crisis sooner.

Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305; lthompson@seattletimes.com