North Bend council picks Loudenback

NORTH BEND - Councilwoman Karen Tavenner said the City Council was out of line last week when it appointed Ross Loudenback to be a new council member, saying that the process the city went through for the appointment was not fair.

"It [the dissenting vote against Loudenback's appointment] was nothing against Mr. Loudenback," Tavenner said after the meeting. "It was just the process."

The process started earlier this year when Mark Sollitto announced he would be stepping down from his post as council member No. 1 at the end of June in order to pursue other civic interests. The City Council debated on how soon to appoint Sollitto's replacement since that person would serve until only this fall before having to run again, but they agreed to accept applications until July 28 with the intention of appointing the position on Aug. 2.

Loudenback was one of two candidates who applied for the position, the other was Fred Rappin, who served on the council from 1993-2001. Loudenback also applied to run for council position No. 4 this fall, which is currently held by Bill Wittress who didn't sign up to run for re-election.

Neither Loudenback or Rappin, however, got the first shot at being appointed at the council's Aug. 2 meeting. Jonathan Rosen, who, like Loudenback, ran for council in 2003 and lost, had applied last week to run this fall for position No. 1. At the beginning of the council meeting mayor Ken Hearing first asked Rosen if he wanted to be considered for the appointment since he was applying to run for the seat this fall anyway. Rosen replied that he didn't want to be appointed because he wanted to use some time to catch up on city issues and he didn't think it would be fair to be considered for the post since Loudenback and Rappin went through the trouble of applying.

When Rappin came before the council to be interviewed, however, he said he would have no problem if Rosen were appointed. Rappin said later that he turned in his application near the end of the week candidates were able to file because he doesn't like to see any race go uncontested.

"I like to see the process happen," he said.

The vote in favor of Loudenback came after short interviews of himself and Rappin by the mayor and council. Loudenback was voted in with a 2-1 vote (Wittress was excused from the meeting for business and Tavenner voted against the appointment).

Before the meeting was over Tavenner expressed some concern with the process the city just went through to appoint Loudenback. She referenced a previous City Council decision that she had been criticized for (the granting of a right of way to the former owners of the Tift Haus, now the Pour House), and said that what the council just did was "far more egregious" than anything she or any of her colleagues had done regarding the Tift Haus.

Tavenner later said she was upset because Rappin had called her earlier in the week and said that he had received a call from Hearing asking him if he wanted to consider withdrawing his application. Rappin later confirmed he got a phone call from Hearing, who asked him to withdrawal. While Rappin decided to go through the appointment process, he said he knew going into the meeting that he was not going to be picked.

"I saw the writing on the wall," he said.

Tavenner said such a call would mean that Hearing already knew how the council would vote, and while he may have had the best intentions to make the call in order to avoid any potentially ugly appointment process, she said it was not right for him to speak for the whole council before the Aug. 2 meeting even took place.

Hearing confirmed that he did call Rappin before the meeting, however, he said it was to merely offer Rappin the chance to withdraw. Hearing said he made the call because he was going to offer Rosen the chance to accept the nomination that night.

Tavenner said she was also upset because she was under the impression, after talking to Rosen prior to the meeting, that Rosen was going to accept the nomination for position No. 1. Rosen said he did talk to Tavenner but said that he would only consider accepting the appointment if there was a consensus from the council about it. He said there was no such consensus and that he ultimately turned it down for the sake of letting the process be completed.

"I didn't think it was right to be considered when I didn't apply," Rosen said.

Councilman Chris Garcia later said he was glad the process went the way it did and was happy with the choice the council made.

"Ross can come in and make a difference," he said.

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