Marli Larimer smiles as she takes the oath of office as a Kent City Council member Tuesday night. Larimer was appointed to the council, filling a vacancy by the departure of Tina Budell. STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

Marli Larimer smiles as she takes the oath of office as a Kent City Council member Tuesday night. Larimer was appointed to the council, filling a vacancy by the departure of Tina Budell. STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

Kent City Council picks Larimer to fill vacant position

She replaces Tina Budell, who resigned her position in April to take a job in Chicago

Marli Larimer plans to use skills she has gained as a Starbucks digital product manager in her role as a City Council member to help make Kent the community of choice for people in South King County.

The council voted 6-0 on Tuesday night to appoint Larimer to replace Tina Budell, who resigned her position in April to take a job in Chicago. The council interviewed seven candidates prior to announcing its pick. It had narrowed a list of 36 applicants to the seven finalists.

“I am responsible for the end-to-end development of a product,” Larimer said to the council during her interview. “That skill set translates well to city government. I would consider Kent to be my product. I am responsible for its perception by its users and understanding what they want from it now and in the future, prioritizing the needs of our citizens, our businesses and our regional partners and how Kent presents itself.”

Larimer, 44, plans to focus on bringing in businesses to fill the large empty retail spaces around town and to make sure the city has affordable housing.

“I was disappointed that the Marquee on Meeker (apartments) – all of its units are market value,” Larimer said. “Affordable housing units are important to our artists, musicians and teachers. I am concerned we are going to find ourselves in a situation like Seattle and price out these vibrant members of our community. I want to work with development to establish affordable housing units.”

Council President Bill Boyce said it was a tough choice because all seven finalists were qualified to serve on the council.

“We had some excellent candidates to choose from,” Boyce said in a city media release. “Each brought something different to the table, but we only had one spot to fill. We chose Marli because we thought she would be a good fit for the existing council. She’s a visionary and passionate about economic development and parks. We are really looking forward to making her a part of the team.”

Larimer will serve on the council’s Economic and Community Development and the Parks and Human Services committees. Her first council meeting is June 19.

Larimer, who has worked for Starbucks in Seattle since 2012, lives with her husband and two young children in the Panther Lake area. Her community experience includes Soos Creek Elementary PTA treasurer and troop leader for Girl Scouts of Western Washington. She has a mass communications degree from the University of Washington, Tacoma.

“I’m excited to represent the city that I love,” said Larimer, who admitted she was surprised she got the job. “I want this to be the city of choice for South King County in the future for not just today and tomorrow but for generations to come.”

Larimer is a 1992 graduate of Kentwood High School in Covington. She lived in Federal Way and Seattle before moving back to Kent nine years ago because this is where she and her husband wanted to raise their family.

The other finalists for the part-time position were Hira Singh Bhullar, Suzanne Cameron, Sara Franklin, Zandria Michaud, Mizanur Rahman and Bill Shorr.

Larimer will serve until an election for the position in November 2019. 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. Budell had just under two years remaining on her four-year term. Each council member receives a monthly salary of $1,265.

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