City Council calls for candidates to fill seat
January 11, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
City Council members turned to a time-tested plan last week to appoint a resident to the seat left vacant after Maureen McCarry resigned late last month.
The resignation left the council shorthanded until at least March. The schedule adopted Jan. 3 sets applicant interviews for late February and includes more than a month for potential candidates to mull a decision.
The process is similar to the steps used to fill a vacant council seat in 2006 and another in 1998.
The council could appoint someone to the open seat as early as March 1, but the schedule could change to accommodate the number of candidates — or disagreements about the selection.
The application deadline is open until Feb. 4. The council has scheduled candidate interviews for Feb. 22.
City Clerk Tina Eggers said the council has discussed March 1 as another date for interviews in order to clear a packed meeting schedule for Feb. 22. (The council could decide to update the timeline at a Jan. 18 meeting.)
Then, after 10-minute interviews, council members could recess into a closed-door executive session to discuss candidates’ qualifications. Under state law, the council can discuss candidates’ qualifications in a closed-door session, but interviews and the decision must occur in public meetings.
The council has set March 7 for the decision to appoint a person to the seat.
Members discussed the proposals Jan. 3 and then agreed in a unanimous decision to adopt the schedule.
The council faces potential 3-3 ties on decisions until the open seat is filled. Mayor Ava Frisinger casts the tie-breaking vote in such cases.
Councilman Mark Mullet asked if the application deadline could be set earlier in order to expedite the replacement process.
“There are probably some folks that are out there thinking about it, and there may be some folks out there that don’t even know that the possibility exists right now,” Councilman Fred Butler said. “So, I think we want to get the word out there, so that people know that there is an opportunity and then have some time to think it through and decide whether they want to throw their hat in and be considered or not.”
McCarry resigned from the Position 5 council seat Dec. 20 — less than a year into a four-year term — as she fights amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The appointee to the vacant seat then serves until the next council election in November. The victor in the council race serves until Dec. 31, 2013.
The council last appointed a member in 2006, after then-Councilwoman Nancy Davidson resigned. Members tapped former Councilman Joe Forkner for the post from a field of 11 candidates. The vacancy attracted 12 applicants, but one candidate dropped out before the interview.
McCarry joined the council through the appointment process, too.
Members picked McCarry, then a Planning Policy Commission member, for the seat left open after voters elected then-councilwoman Frisinger as mayor in 1997. The council chose McCarry from a field of 10 candidates in early 1998.
McCarry served until 2000, opted not to run then and then eked out a 21-vote victory to return to the council after the 2005 election. The former Harborview Medical Center executive beat challenger Joan Probala in a landslide 2009 race.
The recent City Council vacancy has set off jockeying among residents interested in public office.
Qualified candidates must be at least 18 years old, registered to vote and have resided in Issaquah for at least a year prior to the appointment.
Issaquah residents can apply for the open seat until 5 p.m. Feb. 4.
Candidates must submit a letter of interest and a completed application. The application includes a short form and questions. Candidates can then submit additional information to the City Clerk’s Office until 5 p.m. Feb. 14. Find the application at the municipal website.
Candidates can e-mail the packet to City Clerk Tina Eggers at email@example.com; drop items off at City Hall, 130 E. Sunset Way, during regular business hours; or mail the materials to the City Clerk’s Office, P.O. Box 1307, Issaquah, WA 98027.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.