City Council vacancy attracts nine applicants

February 8, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

The contenders in the running to succeed Maureen McCarry on the City Council include people familiar to city leaders.

Joe Forkner has served on the council before, including a stint as a caretaker member after a councilwoman resigned. Stacy Goodman, past editor of The Issaquah Press, used to cover City Hall as a reporter. Nathan Perea campaigned against Tola Marts for the open Position 7 seat in 2009. Paul Winterstein managed Marts’ successful campaign. Other applicants serve on municipal boards and commissions.

The rare midterm opening for the Position 5 seat attracted nine candidates.

In addition to Forkner, Goodman, Perea and Winterstein, the lineup includes Michael Beard, a district manager for a facilities maintenance company, attorney Cristina Mehling, Urban Village Development Commission member Nina Milligan, Boeing analyst Erik Olson and Development Commission member Mary Lou Pauly.

Candidates face the council in public interviews scheduled for March 1. Then, after the 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 vote to appoint a member to the council is scheduled for March 7. The jockeying for the seat started not long after McCarry resigned in late December, as council members and potential candidates started meeting one on one to discuss the open seat.

McCarry resigned to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The interview process is certain, like the application, to include questions about service and professional experience.

In the days before the Feb. 4 application deadline, candidates remained reluctant to offer specifics, so as not to lose the edge to other contenders. The process is a competition, after all.

The council could also endeavor for a geographic balance among neighborhoods or gender among members.

Eileen Barber is the only woman on the current council. Squak Mountain claims more council members — Barber, Fred Butler, Marts and John Traeger — as residents than other neighborhoods. Councilman Mark Mullet is the only highlands representative on the council.

The process offers real potential to create more highlands representation on the board. Goodman, Milligan and Perea reside in the hillside neighborhood.

Though council members serve at large — representing the entire city — and do not represent defined geographic areas, members often advocate for projects in specific neighborhoods.

The appointee to the vacant seat will serve until the next council election in November. The victor in the council race serves until Dec. 31, 2013.

The appointment process sets up a busy campaign season for council members. In addition to the Position 5 seat, councilmen Butler, Joshua Schaer and Traeger face re-election in the fall.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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