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Kent City Council seeking nominees for vacant seat

Kent city residents are invited to apply by May 30 for a vacant seat on the City Council.

Anyone interested in the nonpartisan position must write a letter that explains the reasons they want to serve on the Council. Eligible candidates must be registered voters and have lived within the city limits for at least one year.

The Council has 90 days (until July 30) under state law to fill the vacancy left by the April 30 death of Councilman Bob O’Brien. The councilor died after a long battle with cancer. He was 76.

City officials are now working quickly to ensure they fill the position.

Letters can be mailed to the Kent City Council, attention Debbie Raplee, Council President, 220 Fourth Ave. S., Kent, WA, 98032. Residents also can drop off letters Monday through Friday at City Hall, 220 Fourth Ave. S.

“We want to know why they want to run,” Raplee said. “They need to give us their campaign spiel.”

The Council president explained their timeline.

“We hope to make an appointment no later than the July 15 Council meeting and, hopefully, even sooner,” Raplee said. “We’re still defining the process, but we’ll take letters now.”

The person appointed by the Council will serve until an election for the post takes place in November 2009. The appointed Council member also will be eligible to run for the position. The elected individual would take office as soon as the election is certified.

O’Brien, elected by voters to his first term in 2005, had about 18 months remaining in his four-year term.

Raplee said the Council will discuss within the next week or so whether the applicants will be interviewed by the Council, allowed to make statements or what other methods might be used to pick a new Council member.

“We’re not sure of the process on that now,” Raplee said.

Under state law, if the Council decides to interview candidates those interviews must be conducted in public, City Attorney Tom Brubaker told the Council at its May 20 workshop.

The Council can review applications in executive session, Brubaker said.

It will be up to the Council to decide how simple or detailed to make the process to fill the vacancy.

“You could simply nominate someone and then vote to appoint,” Brubaker said.

It takes a simple majority vote by the Council to appoint a replacement. A 3-3 vote would be broken by Mayor Suzette Cooke.

Council members are paid $1,146 per month for the part-time positions. The Council meets on the first and third Tuesdays of each month. Council members, who are elected to at-large positions, also serve on at least two city committees.

The current six Council members are Raplee, Deborah Ranniger, Les Thomas, Ron Harmon, Elizabeth Albertson and Tim Clark.

Contact Steve Hunter at 253-872-6600, ext. 5052 or shunter@reporternewspapers.com.

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