LACEY - All 11 people who applied for the vacant Lacey City Council position will be asked to interview.
During its work session Thursday night, the council went into an executive session to review applications to fill Mary Dean’s seat, which she resigned at the end of last year. They emerged about 15 minutes later with a motion from council member Andy Ryder to interview all 11. The motion passed unanimously.
After the meeting, Ryder said his motion came down to making sure the process was fair.
“I want to make sure this process is as open and transparent as it can be,” he said. He added that narrowing the list before interviews, a path the council could have decided to take, was something he “wanted to avoid at all costs because it sends the wrong signal.”
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Mayor Tom Nelson said the number of applicants was manageable and that it would have been a different situation had the city received 40 applications.
The council also decided to keep the public interviews, scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 3, between 10 and 15 minutes each.
Since receiving copies of the applications this month, council members have reviewed the forms on their own time, Nelson said. Last week, the council tabled any discussion of applicants until council member Cynthia Pratt returned from a trip to Africa. She was in attendance Thursday evening and seconded Ryder’s motion.
The council’s next task is to develop questions for candidates, who will be interviewed individually without the other applicants in the room. Nelson said he expects to see no more than six questions asked of candidates.
After interviewing candidates Feb. 3, the council could go into executive session and come out with a nominee for appointment. The person appointed by the council would have to be run for election and win this fall if he or she wanted to retain the position.
About half the applicants were at the work session, and some discussed the decision with one another after the meeting. Several said the council’s move to interview all applicants was correct and fair.
One applicant said he had expected to see the list narrowed but added that the council should use this opportunity to get to know the residents who are interested in serving the city.
The applicants are retired Thurston County internal auditor Jack Bryant; soon-to-retire Thurston County Chief Criminal Deputy Jim Chamberlain; Lacey fire commissioner Lucius Daye; Washington State Liquor Control board clerk Margaret Engle; Thurston County commercial property appraiser Jeffrey Gadman; Lacey Planning Commission member Lenny Greenstein; Farmers Insurance agent Ryan Gress; state Department of Health customer-service specialist Josip Mihelich; former Mayor and City Council member Jon Halvorson; retired retail manager and consultant nutritionist Gerald Jorgensen; and Lacey Planning Commission and Intercity Transit citizen advisory committee member Don Melnick.
Council members make $1,125 per month for 2011.