Residents of northwest Pasco interested in helping shape the city’s future have three weeks to apply for a vacant council seat.
Pasco City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to fill the open position from District 4.
The board followed the legal advice of City Attorney Leland Kerr, who said the next member should be picked from the city’s northwest council district even though the vacancy was created by the sudden death of longtime Councilman Mike Garrison, who represented District 2 in central Pasco.
However, Councilman Bob Hoffmann joined Garrison in District 2 and Councilman Saul Martinez’s home address moved to District 3 when the city last redrew its district boundaries in early 2015.
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That left District 4 without a council member, though the city has two at-large members.
Kerr explained last month that state law envisions the possibility of a change in lines displacing a council member from the district from which they were elected.
The issue would have corrected itself with the 2017 election, but now it is left to the council to right things and find a new council member from District 4.
“When I stop taking advice from the city attorney, it’s time to start looking for a new attorney,” Councilwoman Rebecca Francik said Tuesday.
At the Aug. 22 meeting, Councilman Al Yenney suggested the board revert to the 2013 district boundaries under which Garrison was elected to choose his replacement.
On Tuesday, Yenney said he had done his own research and found that Kerr was correct in his interpretation of the law.
“So I will have to go with the appointment coming from District 4, even though personally I felt it should come from District 2,” Yenney said. “The law is the law, and I’m going to stand behind Mr. Kerr’s recommendation.”
The Latino Coalition had objected to position change, said it had found viable and qualified candidates to run out of District 2.
Francik said she wanted to remind the community that 25 percent of the population of District 4 is Hispanic.
A majority of the district is north of Interstate 182 to the northern boundary of the city limits. It extends to Broadmoor Boulevard on the west and Road 52 on the east, with a small section coming in to Road 68 Place/Convention Place.
The district also runs south of I-182 to Argent Road, around Road 68.
Mayor Matt Watkins noted that the appointment is temporary because the new council member will have to run for election in 2017.
The term ends Dec. 31, 2017.
As it is, that council member may wind up in another district if the city has to redraw its boundaries again in the next year because of a change in the electoral system.
The council has 90 days from Garrison’s July 27 death to appoint a new member, or the decision is left to the Franklin County Commission.
Applicants must be registered voters in District 4.
The application deadline is 5 p.m. Sept. 30. That will give council members enough time to schedule and hold interviews during a public meeting, and make the appointment by Oct. 24.
If you have questions about the appointment process, or the role and responsibilities of council members, contact City Manager Dave Zabell’s office 509-545-3404.