The clock continues to tick for the Spokane Valley City Council to fill a pair of vacancies. This week, however, council members got a little closer to the goal of naming at least one new member.
Towey then called for city flags to be lowered to half-staff until Sunday, when a memorial service for McCaslin is scheduled for 2 p.m. at University High School, 12420 E. 32nd Ave. The public is invited.
On Tuesday night, the council agreed to interview next Tuesday, March 29, five potential replacements for Rose Dempsey, who resigned from the council in January for personal reasons and an inability to reach consensus with fellow council members on key issues.
Arne Woodard, Jennie Willardson and Ben Wick were all unanimously chosen by council members to receive interviews after a closed-door executive session to discuss qualifications. Steven Neill and John Baldwin each got three votes from council members – the minimum necessary to advance – to receive further consideration.
Not chosen were applicants Ronald Lippincott, DeeDee Loberg, George Watson and former congressional candidate Clyde Cordero.
The new council member is expected to be named at the April 5 meeting after a week of review – another executive session is scheduled on that date to discuss attributes -- and the appointee will take the dais and be sworn in at that time. No public comment will be taken at that time on the selection.
Meanwhile, on March 29, the council is not only expected to conduct interviews of the finalists for Dempsey’s vacancy but also discuss the process to be used to fill McCaslin’s seat.
“I’d imagine we’d want to fill that position as quickly as possible,” Towey said on Monday. The council has 90 days from the time of McCaslin’s death on March 13 to make its choice.
It’s uncertain, however, whether the council will make use of the applications it has already received for Dempsey’s post or whether those applicants would have to go through the process all over again. Towey indicated that will be up to the council to decide.
The new council appointees – who aren’t required to run for election -- will serve until November, when voters will have their say. So far, only community activist Chuck Hafner has indicated he will run for City Council, but he has not indicated what position he will choose. Bill Gothmann has recently indicated he will not run again for office (see related story in this issue) and Dean Grafos has also not confirmed whether or not he will seek re-election.
On Tuesday night, the mayor read a proclamation honoring McCaslin for his achievements, which was accepted by his son, Bob McCaslin Jr.
“I’m honored to accept this on behalf of my dad,” he said, adding that the council needs the community support, even – as the elder McCaslin would say – “when they’re wrong.”