Kennewick to grill 31 people in a marathon session for an open council seat

The Kennewick City Council will interview a record 31 applicants in an all-day session Saturday for an open council seat.
The Kennewick City Council will interview a record 31 applicants in an all-day session Saturday for an open council seat. Tri-City Herald

The Kennewick City Council is bracing for a marathon day of interviews Saturday after a record 31 people applied to serve out the remaining year left of former Councilman Matt Boehnke’s at-large post.

With so many candidates to review, the council will follow a tightly-scripted interview process starting at 7 a.m. Saturday and concluding that evening when it selects its newest member.

Each candidate will have about 15 minutes with the council, with 12 minutes dedicated to answering identical questions and two to addressing the council directly. The questions will only be released to the candidates 15 minutes before their interview.

Councilman John Trumbo said he’s unhappy that the full council wasn’t allowed to contribute questions or even see them in advance. After initially being told the questions would be distributed electronically Wednesday, the council won’t receive them until Saturday morning, he said.

“I am not pleased,” he said. “I do not want to see questions that have yes or no answers. I do not want to see questions that do not reveal the values and the core issues that would define the candidate.”

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Evelyn Lusignan, the city’s spokeswoman, said the city is using similar questions to the ones it has used in past interviews. In the interest of fairness, each candidate will be asked the same questions.

She said the council members will receive the candidates’ applications in advance of the meeting. The applications have not been released to the public.

The two-page application asked candidates for their occupation, background, education, community-related activities and affiliations, skills, related experiences and reasons for seeking the position.

The council is expected to conduct interviews, with breaks, until about 6 p.m. When the last candidate is finished, the council will meet in a closed-door executive session to discuss the candidates in private, as allowed by Washington’s Open Meetings Act.

At 7:30 p.m., it will return to a public session for a roll-call vote.

Each of the six council members will give the name of his preferred candidate. The winner will need at least four votes. The voting procedure will be repeated until a winner is chosen, barring an impasse.

The interviews and final votes are open to the public. The all-day session will be at city hall, 210 W. Sixth Ave.

The applicants are: Richard Aubrey, Brad Beauchamp, Kurt Beckley, Deanna “Dee” Boyle, James Daniel, Dennis Dean, Chuck DeGooyer, Leonard Dreisbach, Allan Erhart, Robert Garrison, Julian Jensen, Daniel Johnson, Jacob Langston, Kristopher Lapp, Jerry Lewis, Joshua Lindberg, James Millbauer, Erin Mulka, Ed Pacheco, Leo Perales, Richard Pirtle, Brandon Pocasangre, Lee Schwartz, Robert Van Slycke, Rockney Stoddard, Chuck Torelli, Lindy Verhei, Chariss Warner, Christy Watts, Kerry Wright, Brooke Yount.

Wendy Culverwell writes about local government and politics, focusing on how those decisions affect your life. She also covers key business and economic development changes that shape our community. Her restaurant column and health inspection reports are reader favorites. She’s been a news reporter in Washington and Oregon for 25 years.