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The seat vacated after City Councilor Tom Johnston died on Oct. 14. The city will accept applications until Nov. 22.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - From left, Malynda Wenzl, Tom Johnston and Ron Thompson take the oath of office for new four-year terms on the Forest Grove City Council, as administered by City Recorder Anna Ruggles, far right, last year. Johnston's death earlier this month has opened a seat on the council that must be filled by appointment.The Forest Grove City Council passed a resolution on Monday, Oct. 28, declaring a vacant seat and authorizing city officials to begin accepting applications for the position.

The seat became vacant after former City Council President Tom Johnston died on Oct. 14.

According to city code, city councilors review applications, conduct a public interview process and select a resident to fill vacant seats.

Johnston won reelection in 2018. Under Forest Grove's city charter, whoever is appointed to Johnston's seat on the council will serve out the remainder of his term, which ends in 2022.

Qualified applicants must be eligible to vote, have resided in Forest Grove for at least one year and not be employed by the city. Applicants must submit a letter of intent, a resume and a written statement explaining their reason for wishing to be appointed, both of which can be no more than two pages.

The deadline to submit applications to the city is Nov. 22, according to the schedule reviewed by city councilors Monday.

The City Council will review the applications and conduct interviews during a work session prior to the City Council meeting on Dec. 9. At that meeting, city councilors will deliberate about the candidates and select their preferred appointee using a scoring process.

After a discussion on Monday, city councilors agreed to prohibit applicants from submitting letters of recommendation with their applications.

City Councilor Malynda Wenzl said it wasn't clear during a previous City Council seat appointment process whether letters of recommendation should be included.

City Manager Jesse VanderZanden said there's nothing in the city code dictating letters of recommendation for city council appointments.

Multiple councilors raised concerns about who would be in charge of verifying letters of recommendation if the city receives them. They also said accepting letters of recommendation might unfairly advantage certain candidates over others.

"All of a sudden this becomes application by weight," said Mayor Peter Truax. "If somebody goes out there and says, 'OK, I can get all of my colleagues at work, and I work at Intel, to file a letter of recommendation for me,' and the poor guy that has his own business and has one employee gets his recommendation. I think the application ought to stand on its own weight."

City councilors also agreed to remove one of six interview questions and added another. The question they removed asked applicants to describe what they perceive as the City Council's role in the budget process, and name one new source of operating funding they have in mind for the city.

Councilors said the question was unnecessary in part because new city councilors learn how the city's budget process works over time, becoming familiar with potential sources of revenue.

In place of the removed question, city councilors will have applicants explain how they plan to accomplish one of the three goals for the city they list in a previous question.


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