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Seven up for vacant Kent City Council seat

Kent City Council members will choose their seventh member on Feb. 25 to replace Ken Sharp. The council, from left to right, includes Jim Berrios, Dennis Higgins, Dana Ralph, Bill Boyce, Les Thomas and Deborah Ranniger. - COURTESY PHOTO, City of Kent
Kent City Council members will choose their seventh member on Feb. 25 to replace Ken Sharp. The council, from left to right, includes Jim Berrios, Dennis Higgins, Dana Ralph, Bill Boyce, Les Thomas and Deborah Ranniger.
— image credit: COURTESY PHOTO, City of Kent

The Kent City Council will choose among five women and two men for the vacant Kent City Council position.

The council will interview the seven during a public meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25 at City Hall. Council members will go into executive session to discuss the candidates and return in a public session to make the appointment to replace Ken Sharp. Sharp resigned last month after two weeks in office because of pending first-degree theft charges.

The council will interview each candidate separately, said Council President Dana Ralph. Each candidate will be asked the same set of four or five questions and the council will ask any followup questions.

Council members earlier this month cut an application list of 38 people to seven. Several candidates lost in recent council elections but Ralph said those results were not part of the selection process.

"We looked at each application," Ralph said. "Once the election is done, it's done. The appointment process is completely separate."

The council members are Ralph, Deborah Ranniger, Bill Boyce, Les Thomas, Dennis Higgins and Jim Berrios.

Here's a short profile of the seven finalists based on information they submitted to the city as well as previous Kent Reporter stories:

JED ALDRIDGE

Years in Kent: 12.

Job: Self-employed job interview coach and trainer.

Background: Ten years as city of Kent employment manager; 12 years as Kent Fire Department assistant chief; nine years as Kent firefighter.

Quote: "It is critical that the city balance the public safety needs with the maintenance and development of our public works infrastructure, parks system, human services as well as the internal services department."

Election races: None.

CHRISTINE BUDELL

Years in Kent: Seven.

Job: Project manager at SimplyFun.

Background: President of North Park Neighborhood Council; Kent International Festival volunteer; 2011 Kent Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee member.

Quote: "I have fought hard for the residents of my neighborhood and will continue to fight for all of the residents of Kent… . I want to make Kent a destination for new business and families to relocate."

Election races: None.

BRENDA FINCHER

Years in Kent: 25.

Job: Administrative assistant at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Kent.

Background: Sixteen years as customer service and training consultant at Equifax Information Services; past president of Kent Youth and Family Services board; Kent Black Action Commission member; led development of Kent women's homeless shelter; past president of Kent-Meridian High School PTA.

Quote: "I am excited to help firmly establish Kent as a regional leader in innovation and business growth. I am especially eager to engage new businesses. There is a wealth of experience and a high desire for entrepreneurship in our growing immigrant communities."

Election races: None.

BARBARA PHILLIPS

Years in Kent: 20-plus.

Job: Management program assistant at Federal Aviation Administration.

Background: Vice chair city Land Use and Planning Board; president of Community Network Council in Kent; past president of Kent-Meridian High PTA; co-chaired Kent School District diversity task force.

Quote: "I am a diligent community activist striving for community improvement for the citizens of Kent."

Election races: Lost August 2013 Kent City Council primary to Ken Sharp and Bailey Stober. Lost 2009 City Council race to Elizabeth Albertson.

DEBBIE RAPLEE

Years in Kent: 21.

Job: Staff analyst at Boeing.

Background: Served eight years (2004-2011) on Kent City Council, served as council president as well as chair of Public Works Committee and Operations Committee and as council liaison to ShoWare Center.

Quote: "As a former member of the Kent City Council, I am very familiar with the duties and participation requirements for council members and committee members."

Election races: Lost 2013 Kent City Council race as write-in candidate against Ken Sharp and Bailey Stober. Lost as incumbent to Bill Boyce in 2011 City Council race. Elected over Leona Orr to City Council in 2003.

WADE SCHWARTZ

Years in Kent: Four-plus.

Job: Owns Blanc-n-Schwartz Salon in downtown Kent.

Background: Chair of city of Kent Human Services Commission; co-founder of Kent Pride celebration; Greater Kent Historical Society board member; Kent Downtown Partnership board member.

Quote: "I feel we need more leadership to improve transportation, job growth and build a safe and inclusive community. I'll develop long-term planning to address traffic congestion, broaden our economy and support local businesses, and embrace diversity to ensure the success of our kids."

Election races: Lost 2013 Kent City Council race to Jim Berrios.

SARAH VEELE

Years in Kent: Nine.

Job: Senior research associate at Washington State Center for Court Research.

Background: Member of Kent International Festival planning committee since 2008; member of Kruisin' Kent Passport planning committee; doctorate degree in health services research from University of Washington.

Quote: "I would love to focus on the revitalization of the downtown, promoting a safe and healthy community and expanding civic participation among our diverse population."

Election races: None.

Editor's Note: To view the 38 City Council applications, go to the city of Kent website at kentwa.gov.

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