In the end, there were only two citizens who stepped up to be candidates to serve as mayor of White Salmon, and they both have been serving as City Council members: Francis Gaddis, currently serving as the city's mayor pro tem, and Richard Marx.
For the previous 10 days, the mayor's office had been open for any qualified White Salmon resident (at least 18 years old and a registered voter) to apply for, but no one except the two city officials came forward to apply.
With the two applications in hand, members of the City Council will interview the two candidates in an unusual public setting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, beginning at 6 p.m. The interviews will take place in the council chambers at the White Salmon Fire Hall.
The interviews will be conducted by the City Council, and although the public can attend the session, no public input will be allowed during the interview process.
"This will be handled by the city," Gaddis said. "You can observe, but not participate in the questioning."
Gaddis said he personally did not believe the interviews should be open to the public.
"If I'd been on the committee making the decision, it would have been closed, but they didn't want the public complaining that everybody didn't get a fair shake," Gaddis explained.
The chair of the city's two-person personnel committee, Timi Keene (Brad Roberts is the other member of the personnel committee), said she believed it was important to have a very open process.
"It's imperative, especially right now, that the council be as open as possible regarding its responsibilities," Keene said.
Several citizens at recent council meetings had asked Gaddis, a former mayor of White Salmon, to consider serving as mayor, and Gaddis said that contributed to his move to seek the seat.
Marx said he made a bid for the mayor's position because of his knowledge of the city's inner workings.
"I'd been contemplating this for a while, and decided I might as well," Marx said. "I just think it's going to take somebody who has a clear picture of the situation in White Salmon, otherwise they will be playing catch-up. And I've been a council member for three years. As much time as I spend calling the Department of Ecology, Department of Health, the city's insurance providers, and all the work I'm doing now, I might as well take it to the next step."
Marx added that he was not surprised there wasn't more interest from citizens in serving as mayor.
"The mayor's position at this time is not going to be a walk in the park, there is so much going on," Marx said. "But whoever is appointed will have their work cut out to them."
After the interviews are completed, the vote to choose a new mayor is expected to be made during the White Salmon City Council's Oct. 4 meeting. To select the new mayor, it will take a minimum of three council members to agree on one of the two candidates.
It was unclear whether Gaddis and Marx would be allowed to participate in the vote to decide who the new mayor will be. Keene, said she was researching the legal requirements to verify whether the councilors who are seeking to become mayor would be allowed to vote for their own candidacy.
"My initial thought, by no means legally founded, is that because a candidate stands to personally gain from a decision -- just as with a decision regarding land use -- they will have to abstain/recuse themselves from voting," Keene said. "As a result, three council members voting will constitute the quorum."
Regardless of who is chosen, there will be an election in fall 2007 to choose who will be mayor of White Salmon for the following four years.
The move to hire a new mayor stems from the Aug. 15 vote to recall former Mayor Roger Holen. After Holen was recalled, he resigned the next day. The mayor's office has been vacant since that time.
Keene said she had hoped there would be more candidates seeking the mayor's office.
"I am disappointed there weren't more letters of interest," Keene said, but added that she was glad the long controversy related to the mayor's office appeared to nearing an end.
"We're all looking forward to the resolution and closure of this chapter of the city's history," Keene said.