Sequim city councilors are expected to fill the vacant seventh council seat on Monday, Oct. 26.
Six applicants — Janine Bocciardi, Kathy Downer, Keith Larkin, Vicki Lowe, George Norris and Lowell Rathbun — interviewed via conference calls on Oct. 12. Mayor William Armacost suggested holding a decision two weeks later to better consider “six very qualified participants” and the “volume of information.”
Councilors agreed, with Dennis Smith saying “it’d be beneficial to have the opportunity to digest what we’ve gotten.”
As with previous appointee selections, city councilors opted to make a decision at the same meeting following discussions.
The six candidates seek Troy Tenneson’s seat after he resigned due to a family emergency on Aug. 21. If selected, the councilor will serve through Nov. 2021.
Four of six current Sequim city councilors started as appointees, with Armacost and Smith later being reelected.
Each current city councilor asked the same question to each candidate. They were interviewed individually as the others were on hold.
• Janine Bocciardi moved to Sequim more than five years ago and has a background in educational technology and works in educational database design for the University of Hawaii P-20 Partnership for Education.
On what inspires her, Bocciardi said she tries to find common ground with others to better understand them.
On what she brings that’s new to the council, Bocciardi says she’s good at finding “sticky wickets” and finding easier ways to address issues.
On what being nonpartisan means, she said “unbiased” and that city council positions do not identify with a political party.
On why she applied, Bocciardi said she’s been asking a lot of questions about processes, such as code enforcement, that led her to investigate more and seek out consistent use of those regulations.
On compromises to help the citizens and city, she said she wants to make sure as many people’s concerns as possible are given to city leaders and provide assurances.
• Kathy Downer has lived in Sequim since June 2020 after serving on the Marietta city council (Ohio) from 2014-2019 and working as a nurse for 43 years.
On improving the council, Downer said she’s unsure if they need to improve anything because “I’d have to experience it before I made any judgment calls on what needs to be improved upon.”
On Mainstreet, she said she doesn’t have a problem with downtown, that she feels it’s a “difficult time to be a merchant,” and that she doesn’t have any problems with the amount of parking or signs.
On being nonpartisan, Downer said it means to “examine all of the facts before making a decision.” She said, “I’ve never worried about being a Democrat or a Republican, but you vote how your heart leads you after hearing the facts.”
On making compromises, Downer said “it’s something you have to do with every decision” and “you have to weigh everything carefully.”
On becoming a city councilor, Downer said she misses the role. “It’s good to stay challenged and sharp,” she said.
• Keith Larkin moved to the city full time two years ago after retiring from California state service in Dec. 2015, a stint that included six years as fire chief for Fresno County Fire Protection District.
On the council position, Larkin said he takes the position seriously and that he finds being a multi-tasker and planner helps.
On what he could bring to city council, he said he feels he can bring collaboration and good listening skills. “I like to hear multiple opinions about certain situations facing the council (and) it’s in our best interest to listen,” he said.
On being nonpartisan, Larkin said it’s “putting aside your political ideas and political preferences and looking at any situation in an unbiased and open approach … I look at as an education process.”
On joining council, Larkin said his career prepared him for this role because he was involved in a lot of “high level decision making and really understanding the work of government.”
On compromises, Larkin said it comes to being open-minded, approachable, a good communicator, and a good listener by “hearing a lot of side stories that others might not have heard.”
• Vicki Lowe has lived 50 years in the city limits and works as executive director for American Indian Health Commission for Washington.
On what she brings to the council, Lowe said her levelheadedness would help because she’ll remain calm and fall back on codes and laws.
On Mainstreet, Lowe said she feels it’s hard to have a small business now in Sequim and possibly anywhere and she wants to support them. As for Centennial Plaza on the northeast corner of Washington Street and Sequim Avenue, she’d like it to become a good place for community members because she feels the community has lost a lot of its “closeness.”
On being nonpartisan, Lowe said it means being “able to see stuff and look at it logically” while “hearing from all community members, not just the ones who agree with me; we think of our community as a whole.”
On applying to be a city councilor, Lowe said her children have graduated and her grandchildren are in school now, so she feels it was her time to “step up.”
On making compromises, she said her job helping tribes has helped her find consensus and priorities from different perspectives across the state.
• George Norris moved to Sequim in Jan. 2017 and retired as a scientific and technician intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army National Guard after 29 years and 11 years as an Army field artillery officer.
On finding his strength, Norris said it comes from his wife because “she has more confidence in me than I do myself.”
On joining the city council, Norris said he’s good at dealing with groups, finding compromise through difficult and contentious positions and working towards a consensus.
On Mainstreet, Norris said he’d like to improve the traffic flow across Washington Street and Sequim Avenue because it gets congested. He also likes the idea of possibly installing more non-lighted controlled crosswalks across the area.
On being nonpartisan, Norris said that “seems to be what’s best overall for the community.” From his background, he said people in the federal government are supposed to be nonpartisan and that one must “divorce yourself from those kinds of things and look at it for the good of all in mind.”
On becoming a city councilor, Norris feels Sequim is where he’ll live the rest of his life and he “clearly has a vested interest in what the city does.”
• Lowell Rathbun moved to Sequim more than two years ago, and is a retired radio frequency design engineer from Tektronix, Inc. in Beaverton, Ore.
On where he finds his inner strength, Rathbun said it comes from his spiritual outlook. “We’re bonded to all other human beings and … I just never try to lose sight that we’re all human beings, and sooner than later we’re going to find common ground,” he said.
On what he brings to city council, Rathbun said his engineering background provides a “natural instinct to look at the big picture — plan a strategy and deal with it.” He also brings a “real commitment to civil discourse.”
On Mainstreet, he’d like to see traffic move more quickly to improve flow.
On being nonpartisan, Rathbun said everyone has political convictions, but that it’s important for everyone to be honest, make a genuine effort to get facts, and speak with people one doesn’t don’t agree with to see what they see. “(When you) get to the facts, some commonalities begin to occur,” he said.
On compromises for the city and citizens, Rathbun said it’s “moving to a position where there is equal unhappiness on both sides … some people have to give up their goals.”