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Sharp takes Kent City Council seat with theft charges looming

Ken Sharp,left, and Dennis Higgins take the oath of office Tuesday night, Jan. 7, for the Kent City Council as administered by City Clerk Ronald Moore. - STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter
Ken Sharp,left, and Dennis Higgins take the oath of office Tuesday night, Jan. 7, for the Kent City Council as administered by City Clerk Ronald Moore.
— image credit: STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

Ken Sharp took an oath of office Tuesday night to begin his four-year term on the Kent City Council under the shadow of facing seven counts of first-degree theft charges.

King County prosecutors charged Sharp in August for reportedly stealing $297,500 from his 93-year-old mother's bank account and putting the money into his account. If convicted as charged, Sharp faces a prison sentence of 22 to 29 months. He also would have to give up his council seat. Sharp pleaded not guilty to the charges on Aug. 29.

Sharp, 66, the owner of Minuteman Press in Kent, has a hearing scheduled for Jan. 13 in King County Superior Court. At a hearing, a trial date can be set or attorneys can ask for more time to prepare the case and receive a new hearing date from the judge.

Mayor Suzette Cooke asked Sharp near the end of the council meeting for a comment about his initial days as a council member.

"I think in my short time here and the orientations I've had with the different department heads and meeting with the council members I'm really impressed with the quality and dedication of the people," Sharp said. "I've got a lot to learn and I know I can get lots of help from them."

Sharp will serve on the Council's Public Works Committee and the Parks and Human Services Committee, according to the assignments announced by new Council President Dana Ralph. Each committee has three council members and considers items for action before sending the items to the full seven-member council.

Federal Way Police arrested Sharp for investigation of theft on June 21. His mother lived in Federal Way at the time of the alleged theft.

Despite the charges, Sharp defeated Bailey Stober in the November council race by 272 votes. Sharp beat Stober and Barbara Phillips in the Aug. 6 primary. Sharp replaces Elizabeth Albertson on the council. Albertson didn't seek re-election.

During a welcome reception before the council meeting, Sharp said a few words to those who gathered outside of Council Chambers at City Hall.

"I want to thank all of you here," Sharp said. "I know most of the people in this room. We've worked together during my time here in Kent. It's been a privilege and I hope to continue to do that in the next four years. I want to thank the city of Kent for putting on this reception and congratulate the re-elected and newly elected officials. I also want to recognize Jim Berrios who is not here but on a wonderful vacation and I'm sure he will make his presence felt when he returns."

Berrios, the other newly elected council member, had an excused absence from the meeting because of long-planned annual January trip to Mexico with his wife to celebrate their wedding anniversary. He will take his oath of office at the Jan. 21 meeting. Berrios will serve as chairman of the Public Safety Committee and be a member of the Economic and Community Development Committee.

Berrios, who owns the Golden Steer Steak 'n Rib House on the East Hill, also is the Kent Chamber of Commerce president. Sharp served as the Chamber president in 2012.

The others who took an oath of office on Tuesday were Cooke (third term), Councilman Dennis Higgins (second term) and Municipal Court judges Glenn Phillips and Karli Jorgensen.

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