Following the unexpected resignation of former mayor Dennis Smith on Jan. 8, current Sequim City councilors plan to open up the application process again to residents to fill another vacancy.
A date for when applications open and close for the position and public interviews occur will be set later, city clerk Sara McMillon said.
At the Jan. 11 city council meeting, she said the application process will operate similarly to previous vacancies.
This will be the fourth time city councilors will consider an appointed position in the last 12 months.
They most recently appointed retired California fire chief Keith Larkin in late October with some contention among councilors.
Larkin was nominated by Sequim mayor William Armacost, who along with Sarah Kincaid and Mike Pence voted to appoint Larkin to the vacant seat without discussion and no other nominations made.
Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell and councilor Dennis Smith voted against the nomination, and councilor Brandon Janisse abstained because he said he knew Larkin through a property matter.
McMillon said the appointment process was legal according to state law with no decisions or motions made in executive session. She said the process last year included taking applications, doing interviews, going into executive session, coming out of the session and making a motion. Councilors are not supposed to discuss qualifications publicly of candidates when appointing someone to public office, she noted.
In late 2020, city councilors approved a new process for appointing positions that see councilors make their nominations and then vote on those — with the candidate receiving the most votes being appointed.
Larkin was one of six candidates for the open position in October; others included Janine Bocciardi, Kathy Downer, Vicki Lowe, George Norris and Lowell Rathbun.
Councilors on Monday asked to reach out to those candidates to see their interest while also opening the seat up to the general public.
They did on monday consider choosing from the five previous candidates.
“We had such excellent candidates last time, that I’m open to selecting from that pool,” Ferrell said.
Ferrell said he wasn’t against opening it up to the public again, but voted against that process for the sake of time and to have a full council sooner.
However, Ferrell said he’s “excited that we changed the nomination process we’re going to go through.”
He said the appointee process that he and Armacost were once considered for two years ago was more fair “if we had two or three candidates on table before all of a sudden hit with a vote.”
Armacost agreed, adding that the virtual meeting was an issue with Larkin’s nomination, and that his “intention was to do everything in a transparent manner.”
He said there were great candidates and they previously went over all their applications and that choosing from the pool would expedite the process to better serve citizens, but public comments had merit to open it up.
Some public commenters at Monday’s meeting said Larkin’s appointment was “awkward” and they called for more diversity.
Debbie Crumb of Sequim said the council missed an opportunity to “add diversity and balance” with six men and one woman (prior to Smith’s resignation). She said it makes Sequim “look like the good ol’ boy network.”
This year, five of seven positions on city council are up for election, including Position 2, Kincaid; Position 3, Pence; Position 4, Smith’s seat; Position 5, Janisse; and Position 6 Larkin.
For vacant city council positions, applicants must be registered voters of the City of Sequim, have a one-year continuous period of residence prior to appointment and hold no other public office or employment with the city government.
As with previous appointments, candidates must submit a letter of interest, resume and completed application form with answers to supplemental questions to McMillon. For more information, call 360-912-3701 or visit www.sequimwa.gov.