An ordinance passed Tuesday night by the Tenino City Council requires council approval of mayoral hires, fires and appointments, leaving the mayor-elect frustrated and promising to fight the change.
The 3-2 vote came before a large crowd and plenty of vocal opposition to the plan, said Tenino Mayor Ken Jones. He added that it was the most contentious council meeting he’s seen since he joined the council 14 years ago. Jones said councilmembers Phil Simmons and Rebecca Foster voted against the ordinance; support came from councilmembers Bret Brodersen, Dawna Kelley-Donohue and Frank Anderson.
Requiring council approval for personnel decisions has drawn criticism from Mayor-elect Eric Strawn, who feels those who supported him and Tenino residents are being ignored by the current administration.
“It’s a punch in the gut,” he said. “I can’t believe they chose to pass an ordinance, not allowing to let the mayor do what he’s supposed to do.”
Jones, who has been mayor for eight years and was defeated by Strawn in November, said the new step forces the mayor to come to the table with documentation and sound rationale on personnel decisions.
“It is not, in my opinion, as drastic as people made it out to be,” he said. “The mayor still has the option of hiring or firing, the only difference is now it has to go to council before it can be official.”
Tenino has a mayor-council form of government which allows the mayor to make personnel decisions, but it’s been the practice to go through council consideration. The ordinance goes into effect five days after being passed.
Strawn said he plans to ask his supporters for advice and that he’ll push to get the issue back on the agenda once he becomes mayor.
Nate Hulings: 360-754-5476 firstname.lastname@example.org www.theolympian.com/outsideoly