Council seeks applicants for Opportunity Fund board


Staff writer

The Sequim City Council is seeking applicants to serve on the Clallam Economic Development Council’s Opportunity Fund board. The decision to seek an applicant was made during the Jan 24 meeting of the council despite a previous Jan. 14 decision that the position should remain filled by EDC board member and local real estate agent Mike McAleer, who has served on the Opportunity Fund board since 1997.

Although the city makes a recommendation, it’s the county commissioners who have the final say.

Rural counties are required to retain a portion of their sales and use tax revenue to finance county public facilities projects. Although the EDC administers the funding, the Opportunity Fund board is responsible for making recommendations to the county commissioners regarding which projects should receive funding and which should not. A successful project must result in new jobs.

“We’re there to look at these projects with job count in mind,” McAleer said.

The story of how the council decided to seek new representation begins with the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission is seeking a Sequim resident to fill a commissioner position vacated by council member Susan Lorenzen. The city has received five applications. Each applicant must be interviewed by the city’s Planning Commission interview committee, which is comprised of the planning director and three council members, but a suggestion was made by Planning Commissioner Dick Foster that a Sequim citizen also sit on the interview committee. The majority of the council agreed to Foster’s suggestion. It then became a matter of whether the private citizen should be appointed to the position or if the city should put out an advertisement requesting applications.

Mayor Laura Dubois recommended Board of Adjustment member Troye Jarmuth to serve on the interview committee but Councilman Paul McHugh countered that since the position was newly created, it was only proper that it be advertised so that residents in addition to Jarmuth could apply.

“I don’t agree with the position, but if we’re going to do that the public should be involved,” McHugh said later.

The position was eventually made public and Jarmuth was the only one who applied.

On Jan. 24, Councilman Erik Erichsen suggested that the position for the Opportunity Fund board also be opened up to the public.

“I felt that your impassioned speech was right on,” Erichsen told McHugh.

McHugh countered that the Planning Commission citizen advisory commission was brand new and that’s why it needed to be publicized, whereas McAleer already had been serving on the Opportunity Fund board for more than a decade.

“With all due respect, we’re comparing apples to oranges,” McHugh said.

“Mike’s been doing it for years and he’s good at it,” added council member Walt Schubert.

A vote to request applications from the public in regards to the position passed 4-3.

“I just think we need to give residents with similar qualifications the opportunity to participate,” said Lorenzen.

McAleer says he wasn’t happy with the council’s decision.

“Frankly, I want to continue,” said McAleer. “I really want to support the city, and I want to see the city continue to progress.”

McAleer plans to reapply for the position.

Others interested in the position may submit a letter of interest and resumé to the Sequim City Clerk at Sequim City Hall, 152 W. Cedar St. no later than 4 p.m. on Feb. 11.

“I just think we need to give residents with similar qualifications the opportunity to participate.”

— Susan Lorenzen, Sequim city councilor

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