Meet Jamie Danielson, the new, young face on Kent City Council

The Kent City Council decided to go young with the appointment of Jamie Danielson on Tuesday to the vacant Council position.

Jamie Danielson selected

The Kent City Council decided to go young with the appointment of Jamie Danielson on Tuesday to the vacant Council position.

The Council voted 6-0 at a special meeting to appoint Danielson, 27, a Kent attorney, to the position that became vacant with the April 30 death of Councilman Bob O’Brien. O’Brien died of cancer at age 76.

Fifteen residents initially applied for the position. Seven candidates interviewed Tuesday with the Council at City Hall.

“There was an incredible amount of talent in the candidate pool, so I’m very surprised they ended up picking me,” Danielson said after the meeting. “I’m excited to jump in and get going on city issues.”

Council President Debbie Raplee said that a couple of things jumped out about Danielson, the youngest of the candidates interviewed by the Council.

“One is her youth,” Raplee said. “That is an area where we can engage a population that can take this as an example to get involved themselves.”

Danielson’s legal background also gave her an edge over the other candidates.

“Being an attorney and able to look at issues from all sides to come to decisions will be a benefit to the Council,” Raplee said. “I think she appears very friendly and easy to get along with. She’s open-minded and willing to learn and is probably a quick study. With her background, she will study the issues and come to good analytical decisions.”

Danielson will be sworn into office at the beginning of next Tuesday’s Council meeting and start work that evening. She will serve until an election takes place in November 2009. Danielson also will be eligible to run for the position.

“I think that I do have an unique perspective in that I’m younger and I’ve lived in Kent my entire life,” Danielson said. “That gives me a different perspective on issues we’re facing with housing, transportation, the events center and shopping corridors like Kent Station.”

The Council had the same five questions for each candidate, who were interviewed for about 15 minutes apiece. The questions ranged from the role of government to needs of the city to how the city would benefit if they were appointed to the position.

After nearly two hours of interviews, the Council moved into executive session for about an hour to discuss the candidates. The Council then came out of session and voted 6-0 in favor of Danielson.

“Going from seven to one was extremely difficult,” Raplee said of choosing the top candidate. “Everybody had a vision, a prospect for the future, a good background and good community involvement. Everyone was truly passionate about wanting to be on the Council.”

The other six finalists were Nicole Byzinker, a stay-at-home mother; Dennis Higgins Jr., a client services manager of the King County Geographic Information Systems; Jon Johnson, a former Kent councilman from 1977 to 1997; Dana Ralph, a Kent small-business owner; Michael Sealfon, a medical lab-technician instructor at Renton Technical College; and Rashmee Sharma, a middle-school teacher.

Danielson is an attorney with Hanis Irvine Prothero of Kent. She practices family law, trusts and estates, and land use. She graduated two years ago from the University of Oregon School of Law. She has grown up in Kent and is a graduate of Kentwood High School in Covington.

“I’ve always been interested in politics and watched the races,” Danielson said of her reason for wanting to be on the Council. “I always thought it was something I wanted to jump into eventually when I got back to Kent after law school. This position opened up, it was an opportunity and the time to do it.”

Danielson will join the current six Council members – Raplee, Ron Harmon, Deborah Ranniger, Les Thomas, Elizabeth Albertson and Tim Clark.

Council members cut the list of candidates to seven from 15 after a review of applications during an executive session at the June 17 Council meeting.

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 also serve on at least two city committees.

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


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