City Council waits to appoint new commissioners

  • Written by Briana Gerdeman

The City Council reached a stalemate last week while trying to appoint new members to the Planning Commission and the Tree Board.

Deputy Mayor James Evans abstained from voting on the Planning Commission position, because he wanted to do his own research on the candidates.

"There was a miscommunication about how the process works," he explained. "I generally thought that we would be able to interview the person...or that it was inappropriate because we got their application."

Not all Council members interview candidates for commissions. Instead, a Committee to Evaluate Commission/Board Members interviews the candidates and makes a recommendation to the rest of the Council. This year, Mayor Bernie Talmas, Councilmember Liz Aspen and Councilmember Susan Boundy-Sanders serve on the interview committee.

Evans apologized for delaying the Council, but said he wanted to review the applicants’ resumes and call the applicants himself before making a decision.

Mayor Bernie Talmas said "two highly qualified applicants," Hank Stecker and Stephanie Young, applied for the Planning Commission.

Talmas, Boundy-Sanders and Councilmember Paula Waters voted to appoint Stecker to the Planning Commission, which is responsible for giving advice to the City Council about Woodinville’s future growth, its land use plan and its zoning code.

Boundy-Sanders said that Stecker’s experience as a former chair of the Planning Commission, a former deputy mayor of the city and a member of several neighborhood groups means that "he really gets the planning process from every angle."

"Both applicants are well qualified and would make a valuable addition to the Planning Commission," Boundy-Sanders wrote in an email. "My choice tipped toward Hank Stecker because the greatest need currently is for a commissioner who can recognize when the commission is being guided excessively toward a particular outcome. This has been happening too often lately, both by the information that the staff provides to the commission and the information that the staff doesn’t provide."

Stecker said, "There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done on our Planning Code. We have a lot of room for improvement."

When Woodinville became a city in 1993, the Planning Code was generic, he said. Over time, the Planning Commission has changed specific things, but it needs to tailor the entire document to Woodinville.

Aspen, Councilmember Les Rubstello and Councilmember Scott Hageman voted to appoint Young to the Planning Commission.

"She also applied for the Tree Board, and I would like to see her on the Planning Commission," Aspen said of Young. "She was very qualified and enthusiastic and eager to serve on the Planning Commission."

Attempts to contact Young were unsuccessful.

Young is now the only candidate for the Tree Board position, because the other candidate, Marilyn Troje, withdrew her application, Deputy City Clerk Linda Fava said on Friday.

"She was a very enthusiastic candidate that has some good ideas about bringing the community together around greenscapes, trees," Aspen said of Young. "She has a passion for preserving our forests and our woodland and what makes Woodinville a wonderful place to live. In her words, she wants to balance growth and our forest with healthy habitats, preserve our heritage trees and enhance our Arbor Day."

Evans voted against appointing Young to the Tree Board because he wanted to learn more about all the candidates before making a decision, he said.

The Council voted unanimously to appoint two candidates, Roy Ghazimorad and Leslie Anderson, to the Parks and Recreation Commission. The Council will vote again on the other positions next week.

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