Sequim city councilors appointed retired California fire chief Keith Larkin, 64, to the open council seat at Monday night’s virtual council meeting in a contested but quiet 3-2 vote.
“I’m really honored to serve,” Larkin said in a phone interview.
“I haven’t held a position like this in the past. It’s a bit exciting and apprehensive at the same time. There’s a lot to learn.”
A full-time Sequim resident for two-plus years, Larkin was nominated by Mayor William Armacost, who along with Sarah Kincaid and Mike Pence voted to appoint Larkin to the vacant seat.
Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell and councilor Dennis Smith voted against the nomination, while councilor Brandon Janisse abstained because he said he knows Larkin through a property matter.
A motion and vote came before any other nominations were made.
City Clerk Sara McMillon said the city’s council guidelines did not cite a specific process for choosing an appointee in regardsto simple versus super-majority vote, so a motion and vote sufficed.
Councilors did not discuss Larkin’s nomination before voting.
They met in an executive session on Oct. 12 after interviewing the six candidates in virtual calls and opted prior to the session to delay a decision two weeks because of the number of candidates and amount of information to consider.
Councilors selected Larkin from six candidates to fill Troy Tenneson’s city council seat after Tenneson resigned due to a family emergency on Aug. 21.
Other candidates included Janine Bocciardi, Kathy Downer, Vicki Lowe, George Norris and Lowell Rathbun.
Larkin will serve through November 2021.
He said in a phone interview that he feels things are going to go well and he’s leaning towards running for election Nov. 2021.
Larkin said his previous exposure to government and working with boards has prepared him to serve Sequim.
“I look forward to the opportunities (with council),” he said. “I just hope as people recognize me in the future they find I’m approachable and willing to listen. I’m interested in meeting more and more people.”
He is the fifth city councilor to start their term as an appointee following Sarah Kincaid and Mike Pence in April, and Armacost and Smith who were re-elected to their council seats.
Larkin said he Tenneson encouraged him to run for city council in 2019 but he declined at the time. After he learned about Tenneson’s resignation, Larkin opted to try running for the appointed position.
More on Larkin
In his interview and council questionnaire, Larkin said he’s lived full-time in the city for about two years after purchasing his property in 2014 and finishing his home in May 2018.
He served as his home’s general contractor and has devoted much of his time to projects related to it, he said.
“(As) I’ve come to that closure of my work, this is my opportunity to get more involved in and learn more about the issues for the city,” he said.
He retired in December 2015 after 36 years in California state service, including six years as fire chief for Fresno County Fire Protection District.
Larkin’s two grown daughters and his mother live in California, and that he often visits them.
Prior to his public interview, Larkin said he has no agenda but said he feels rapid growth in and around the city will have long-term effects on the city and its citizens.
“I feel like that does bring a fair amount of challenges and I want to be a part of that process,” he said in a phone interview.
He said there is a lot of planning and collaborating that will need to occur quickly while looking long-term.
During interviews on Oct. 12, Larkin said he feels he can bring collaboration and good listening skills and he likes “to hear multiple opinions about certain situations facing the council (and) it’s in our best interest to listen.”
As for non-partisanship, he said the position requires him to put aside his political ideas and preferences and look “at any situation in an unbiased and open approach.”
“I look at it as an education process,” Larkin said.
In his questionnaire, Larkin said the “city Government must respond timely to issues, be unbiased in consideration of all matters, and be good stewards of the funds placed in our control.”