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Search for new mayor begins

Sept. 22 is deadline to apply

The city of White Salmon has decided on a path to follow regarding its vacancy in the mayor's office.

On Sept. 6, the White Salmon City Council formalized a process as to how the new mayor will be chosen. The first step will be to let people know they can apply to serve as mayor. After that, would-be candidates will have about 10 days to submit materials to the City Council's personnel committee at City Hall.

The city will accept letters of intent through Sept. 22, and may begin interviews as early as Sept. 20.

"I feel very strongly this is something we need to open up to the public. We'll request people to indicate their interest and have a timeline for that part of the process, followed by interviews, followed by a decision by the council as to which individual will fill that position," explained council member Timi Keene.

The city has been without a mayor since the results of the Aug. 15 special recall election against former Mayor Roger Holen became known. Holen was recalled by about 60 percent of the vote, and he resigned from office the next day.

Former mayor and current City Council member Francis Gaddis has been serving as mayor pro tem since that time.

"Our intention is to interview by the week of Sept. 25, and at our first meeting in October we will have an appointment," Keene said. "We will interview candidates, and appoint one on Oct. 4."

Council member Brad Roberts said he thought that schedule might prove to be too ambitious.

"It sounds aggressive," Roberts said. "I'd like to say that meeting (Oct. 4) or the next."

At least one citizen agreed that Oct. 4 might be too rushed, and urged the council to go slow.

"I know you want someone on board before the budget process, but I feel this decision is very important. You have to get somebody well qualified, and someone to spearhead things. Trying to get this all done by the first of October -- to me, that's a big rush," said White Salmon resident Donna Marx.

Gaddis said he feels the timetable hammered out by the council is a reasonable approach.

"I think it's about the best we could do at this time," Gaddis said. "The council feels it wants to take the necessary time to select the best person to do the job. We have no idea who will apply. The more applicants we get, the longer it will take to make the decision."

Some citizens said they already knew who they would like to see serve as mayor until the 2007 election.

"I think Francis Gaddis should stay right there and fill this term out," said White Salmon resident Clyde Knowles. "He is the senior person here, and he's served before. It's time for him to throw the harness on."

Sandi Dickey agreed with Knowles' suggestion.

"He [Gaddis] has been mayor before. What better qualification is there?" she commented.

Donna Marx asked Gaddis if he would serve as mayor.

"Are you even considering it?" she asked.

"I won't comment on that right now," Gaddis responded.

On Thursday, Gaddis said he might put his name in for the position.

"I believe I'd consider it," Gaddis said. "At this time, I believe I would apply. But I'll have to wait and see who applies. Most people have no idea of the time involved in being mayor."

Knowles said the process needed to be very open.

"Whether Jesus Christ or our president wants to be mayor, I think everyone in the community should sit in on the process," Knowles commented.

After the meeting, council member Richard Marx said the council should not set up any specific qualifications regarding who can serve as mayor.

"There are no job qualifications," Marx explained. "Anybody who lives in town and has lived here for a year and is registered to vote can put his name in the hat. You can't put a job description on the mayor. Anyone who wants to be considered can be considered."

Marx added that he believes the interviews with the mayoral candidates should be in public.

"I would think so," he said. "How else would you do it? The interview has to be in public."


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