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Kent Mayor Cooke seeks new chief administrative officer; says third term will be her last

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke takes her oath of office Tuesday, Jan. 7 as administered by City Clerk Ronald Moore. - Steve Hunter/Kent Reporter
Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke takes her oath of office Tuesday, Jan. 7 as administered by City Clerk Ronald Moore.
— image credit: Steve Hunter/Kent Reporter

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke said she will begin a search for a new chief administrative officer (CAO).

Cooke appointed then City Attorney Tom Brubaker as interim CAO in May when John Hodgson retired after seven years on the job. Brubaker will continue in the interim role.

"My decision to advertise for the position does not reflect negatively at all on Tom Brubaker," Cooke said during the Tuesday night City Council meeting. "He is doing an awesome job and I hear nothing but positives from both staff, those of you on the council that have shared your workings with Tom as well as myself in working with him.

"But I do believe a city of our size we need to look and see what is possible for us. I expect Tom to be one of the applicants for the position. He has stepped up to the plate so admirably and in learning areas where he had not any expertise as our city attorney such as looking at the complicated budget that this city has."

The CAO oversees the city’s day-to-day operations including economic development, finance, human resources, parks and police. Cooke indicated to the council she would like to hire a consultant to help recruit CAO candidates.

Cooke also is looking for a new finance director to replace Bob Nachlinger, who will retire the end of January after 10 years on the job.

Four more years for Cooke

Cooke announced before the council meeting that her third four-year term as mayor will be her last. Voters re-elected Cooke in November. She also won elections in 2009 and 2005.

"I've made a public commitment to serve four more years, that's it," Cooke said during a reception for newly elected and re-elected city leaders. "So I have four years to leave my final stamp on this city and that final stamp is actually designed and licked by you. So that means we better be talking about what the priorities of this city are today that will make the difference in the next generation."

Cooke said she's looking forward to working with the council, which includes new members Ken Sharp and Jim Berrios and returning members Dennis Higgins, Dana Ralph, Les Thomas, Deborah Ranniger and Bill Boyce.

"I'm darn excited with the direction Kent is going," she said. "I've got a great team of council members."

 

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