After an hourlong, sometimes difficult conversation Thursday, Lacey City Council finally agreed on some steps and dates to fill the seat left vacant by former councilman Jeff Gadman. Gadman was appointed Thurston County Treasurer last month.
The council settled on the following:
▪ Applications will be made available online and at Lacey City Hall on Monday, March 20. City Hall is at 420 College St. SE.
▪ Applications are due at the close of business on April 7.
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▪ Council members will submit their interview questions to Mayor Andy Ryder by April 14.
▪ Applicant interviews are set for April 17. That will be a special meeting for the council because it typically meets on Thursdays.
▪ Depending on the number of applicants, the council could appoint someone on April 17 or schedule another round of interviews.
The council largely hammered out those details in the final minutes of Thursday’s work session. Before that, though, battle lines formed over whether to pursue a slower transition or to fill the vacancy quickly.
In favor of a slower process were Mayor Ryder, Deputy Mayor Cynthia Pratt and Councilman Michael Steadman. Wanting a quicker turnaround were councilmen Lenny Greenstein, Virgil Clarkson and Jason Hearn.
In between, they argued over whether to have an open house for the applicants and whether the applicants should receive their interview questions beforehand.
The central issue was the overall timing of the appointment. State law gives the council up to 90 days to fill the position. If they can’t, then it goes to the Board of Thurston County Commissioners to decide. If they can’t decide, the decision falls to Gov. Jay Inslee.
Steadman spoke repeatedly in favor of a longer application time, reminding the council they have up to 90 days to make the appointment.
“For people who have never gone through the process, it is intimidating and hard enough as it is,” he said.
Pratt added that not only do they need time to apply, but they also need to time to decide whether to run for the seat and get their campaigns set up.
Both asked: Why rush?
“It’s important that we do the public’s work, and in order to do it effectively, we need seven members on that council,” Greenstein said.
So they worked backwards from May 4, Pratt and Ryder’s preferred date for applicant interviews.
“Why do we have to a wait that long?” said Greenstein about May 4. “That’s a month and a half.”
They also considered meeting on a Saturday, but eventually settled on April 17.
Greenstein pointed out that an additional council member would have helped them reach consensus faster on Thursday.
“This is one more reason you need seven people,” he said.