West Linn sees record number of applicants for citizen advisory groups
Appointments to West Linn's citizen's advisory groups (CAGs) have been made after a record 55 people applied for 28 positions. After interviewing each applicant over the past several weeks, the West Linn City Council chose its next advisors at a special meeting Tuesday, Jan. 14.
Last year 29 open CAG positions and controversy between West Linn's Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board over the parks and rec master plan turned the council's discussion of appointments into a series of heated debates.
Despite the remarkable number of applicants, this year's appointment process was much less eventful. The only contentious appointments were for the Citizens Budget Committee and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. It's no surprise the latter sparked debate, given that there were 30 applicants for three open PRAB positions. Of the 55 individuals who applied, 11 applied for multiple positions.
According to West Linn's policies, citizen advisory board members are appointed by the mayor, with consent from the city council.
Two new applicants and two incumbent advisors applied for two vacancies on the CBC, which works with both the council and City staff on the City's biennial budget. Council President Teri Cummings and Councilor Rich Sakelik recommended incumbent CBC member Mike Taylor and new applicant Ed Schwarz for the committee.
West Linn Mayor Russ Axelrod said he was uncomfortable with Schwarz on the CBC, because of the significant amount of time and money Schwarz and his wife have invested in the White Oak Savanna. The Schwarzes have testified to the council many times on a number of issues related to the White Oak Savanna, and frequently offered that they refinanced their home in order to acquire the land that is now part of the park.
Sakelik retorted that the Schwarzes have donated to the White Oak Savanna, not invested in it, so there would be no conflict of interest for Ed Schwarz to serve in an advisory capacity to the City.
Ed Schwarz was eventually selected to the CBC, along with incumbent member Ann Frazier.
Six applicants sought three open spots on the Committee for Citizen Involvement (CCI). The council selected Dan Tedrow, Shannen Knight and Vicki Olson for the CCI.
The council considered 10 applicants for three vacancies on the Economic Development Committee. Two of these applicants were applying to stay on the Committee, even though their terms expired this year. Ultimately, the council went with Shannen Knight, Shannon Ilaas and Rachel Vidin.
Of the four applicants for the Historic Review Board, the council chose John Steele, Timothy Young and Scott Erwin.
Emily Hogan was selected for the only open vacancy for the Library Review Board. No one else applied for this position.
The council chose the two incumbent members of the Planning Commission who re-applied, Jim Farrell and Charles Mathews, to stay in their positions over two new applicants.
Public Safety Advisory Board had three applicants for two positions and the council chose Karin Haag and Preston Fedor.
Of the seven people who applied for three open spots on the Sustainability Advisory Board, the council appointed Victoria Meier, Emily Wolff and Gregory Smith.
Out of four applicants, the council selected Anthony Lairson and Riad Alharithi for the Transportation Advisory Board.
Edward Keonjian, Jocelyn Pease, Bruce Kihleng and Anthony Lairson were selected for the Utility Advisory Board. Alice Richmond, an incumbent member of the UAB, was the only applicant not selected for this board. Relyea suggested it was because she had not attended enough of the UAB meetings in the past year. Walters and Axelrod defended Richmond, saying her absences were due to health issues, but they were outvoted.
The PRAB was by far the most popular this year, receiving 30 applicants for three open positions. At Tuesday's meeting, the council discussed six of these applicants. Mary Baumgardner was a favorite of Cummings and Sakelik for the position, though Walters and Axelrod suggested they give the position to one of the other 29 applicants because Baumgardner already had a spot on the TAB. Cummings and Sakelik also suggested Eleanor Wynn, who would have been another newcomer to the PRAB, because of her background in environmental science. When Walters stated that Wynn's background was not environmental science, Cummings maintained "Yeah, but she's also involved in environmental things."
In the end, the council went with Baumgardner, PRAB incumbent Sarah Silvernail and newcomer Lotte Edgel.
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