Council ready to move forward following recent appointments

NORTH BEND - A committee appointment process that raised the ire of North Bend City Council members in April was put to rest with the approval of three new Economic Development Commission members last week by a 5-0 vote.

"Regardless of how we got here, I'm very excited about the three individuals coming on board," said Mayor Pro tem Bill Wittress.

What began as a seemingly routine appointment last month and ended at the May 4 council meeting with the appointment of Kevin Kalberg, Ed Cook and Terril Perrine, turned into a stumbling block that council members say they are happy to have cleared.

At the April 6 council meeting Mayor Ken Hearing began the process of appointing members to vacancies on two of the city's volunteer committees that assist the City Council. After finishing appointments to the city's Parks, Recreation and Beautification Commission, Hearing presented Kalberg as his first choice for the Economic Development Commission.

The commission is charged with helping to rejuvenate a struggling downtown business corridor that has been affected in recent years by a 1999 citywide building moratorium brought on by a lack of water rights.

When Kalberg, a Maple Valley resident who works in North Bend, was voted down 3-2 by the council, Hearing stopped the process leaving at least two potential appointees in limbo. The actions were hard for members of the Economic Development Commission as they were three members short but still charged with helping the city establish the business portion of its Comprehensive Plan update.

Following the meeting, Councilman Chris Garcia said he was concerned the message being sent by the actions was that if you disagree with the group, you won't be appointed.

Others blamed the process, stating that despite an interview session that involved the mayor, a council member and a city official, not enough information about candidates was made available prior to the vote.

Councilwoman Karen Tavenner, who originally voted against the appointment of Kalberg due to the lack of information, said that although the proper information still hadn't been given to her prior to last week's vote, she did have her questions answered by him during a lengthy conversation that they had. Tavenner, who chastised the mayor for halting the process in March when his nomination was voted down, said the process was still flawed.

Despite the lapse in process, Tavenner applauded the appointees for their resolve, adding that the ordeal would've made her withdraw her name from consideration if she were up for appointment.

Councilman Mark Sollitto said with a number of bigger issues facing the city, moving past the appointments was needed.

"This is an example of the group, despite a fumble ... focusing on what's most important," said Sollitto. "There's a host of 800-pound gorillas we need to deal with."

Councilman Garcia, who raised questions about the process last month, said he was "excited" about the new appointments.

The diversity of interests in the newly appointed members, said Councilman David Cook, brings a balance to the commission that should be beneficial.

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