North Bend city council appoints two new members

NORTH BEND - Two business owners have been chosen to fill the vacancies left by Jack and Elaine Webber on the North Bend City Council.

Chris Garcia and Karen Tavenner were chosen from a field of five candidates to fill the two vacancies left by the Webbers, who were forced to step down late last month due to a pending move out of the city. Councilman Mark Sollitto called the action at the council's June 3 meeting "one of the two toughest decisions" he's had to make as part of the group.

Sollitto and council members Ed Carlson and Bill Wittress were charged with the task of interviewing the candidates in a public setting and then choosing the first replacement, which was Tavenner. Once Tavenner was sworn in and became an official member of the council, she joined the three veterans to choose the second replacement, which was Garcia. The appointments are good only until the November election. If both candidates wish to retain their seats, they must win the election.

Tavenner, who had served on the city's Parks Board since earlier this year, is a more than 10-year resident of North Bend and runs a home-based business. Tavenner also has devoted her time to volunteering at North Bend Elementary School and with the Safe Kids Task Force, the resident-based group rallying support against a state proposed sex-offender halfway house that could be located near the city.

In her interview for the position, Tavenner said even with North Bend's tight budget situation she was willing to go the distance to fight the facility.

"I can't see anything that can do more harm to our town than bringing the SCTF to North Bend," said Tavenner. "I'm totally prepared to take this as far as we can. I'm committed to the end because I've got a 6 year old and I don't want those guys in my town."

Tavenner said the sex-offender facility and the city's struggle to secure water rights to lift a building moratorium were the two biggest issues facing North Bend.

It's the people and their willingness to support their neighbors and get behind local causes that played a role in her desire to seek the position, Tavenner said.

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