Forest Grove receives multiple applications for City Council seat
The Forest Grove City Council will have several people to choose from to fill a vacancy on the seven-member government body.
By the deadline on Friday, Nov. 22, the city of Forest Grove had received eight applications for the vacant seat.
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.
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.
By the end of the day on Friday, three of the applications submitted for the Forest Grove council vacancy had been certified as meeting the city's requirements.
Kristy Kottkey, 49, has lived in Forest Grove since 2000, but she became familiar with the city prior to that, having received a master's degree in teaching from Pacific University in 1994. She lived in Aloha for several years after graduating from Pacific.
Kottkey taught multiple middle school subjects, including English language arts and life sciences, in the Hillsboro School District for 20 years. She said she recently stopped teaching to be able to spend more time her son, who has severe autism.
She has previously served on the Forest Grove Library Commission and the Committee for Community Involvement.
Kottkey said she learned a lot about how the city functions while serving in those roles but realized she wanted to contribute more to her local government. She feels like she has an opportunity to do that now, she said.
If Kottkey is appointed to the City Council, she would find ways to facilitate more civic engagement from community members, she said.
"My passion is finding ways to get people to access the information they want but can't always get easily right now from the city," Kottkey said. "It's about finding a way to get people to feel more connected."
She said ever since she moved to Forest Grove, no place has felt more like home.
"It has been wonderful," Kottkey said. "Every time I drive home I say to myself, 'I am so lucky.'"
Howard Sullivan, 63, has lived in Forest Grove for 43 years. He is currently the chief executive officer and president of the Forest Grove/Cornelius Chamber of Commerce.
Sullivan taught American government in the Forest Grove School District for 33 years.
He has served on the Forest Grove Parks & Recreation Commission since 2012, the Forest Grove Economic Development Commission since 2013 and the Cornelius Economic Development Commission since 2014.
He said his decades of knowledge about the city and work experience would allow him to bring a new set of eyes to the wide-ranging duties of the City Council. Sullivan is particularly interested in bolstering affordable housing, addressing homelessness and building infrastructure.
"I think I have something to offer the community of Forest Grove," Sullivan said. "I have an understanding of how our community works, and I think that would be beneficial to the city."
He said Forest Grove is a perfect place to raise a family. His wife and children all graduated from Forest Grove High School.
"It's a city of great character," Sullivan said. "It's a vibrant city, people know each other, people are kind to each other."
Joshua Fromm, 40, has lived in Forest Grove for nearly three years. He is currently a senior construction manager for Portland General Electric.
Before moving to Forest Grove, Fromm and his family lived in Columbia City, just north of St. Helens, where he served on the City Council for eight years. He was elected to the position when he was 28, making him the youngest city councilor in Oregon at the time, he said.
Before serving on the City Council, Fromm was on the Columbia City Planning Commission for two years.
"Some of the things that we went through in Columbia City are common things in all cities," Fromm said, "as far as passing levees or building new infrastructure or keeping our departments intact. Those are some of the tools I want to bring with me to this council."
As a construction manager, Fromm said he would bring expertise to the city's review of new building projects and other types of development.
He said when he served on the City Council in Columbia City, he grew passionate about code enforcement. "Cleanliness of our yards, making sure we're parking on the street in a dignifying manner for our neighbors — easy stuff, but stuff that helps boost the quality of life," Fromm said.
He added, "My favorite part about living in Forest Grove is not having to get in my car and being able to just walk with my family down the street to see all the great things it has to offer."
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