While the first half of the year has been tumultuous for the Spokane Valley City Council, the remaining four members looked ahead Tuesday night.
The council welcomed its new police chief – sheriff’s Capt. Mark Werner -- and also swore new council-appointees Jonathan “Caleb” Collier and Pamela Haley.
Collier is a Republican who also serves as a Republican precinct committee officer. Haley owns businesses in Spokane and Spokane Valley. They were appointed to fill the vacancies created by the resignation of Council Members Dean Grafos and Chuck Hafner, who left due to the dismissal of former City Manager Mike Jackson in February and their inability to work with the majority of the council.
The council appointees will serve at least until fall 2017, where their positions will be up for election. Both Collier and Haley received three votes apiece from Council Members Ed Pace and Sam Wood along with Mayor Rod Higgins. Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard’s choice, former city employee Michelle Rasmussen, received no votes from the other three members.
A third appointee – who will fill in for Bill Bates, who resigned recently due to health concerns – is expected to be named later this month and that office will also be up for election next year.
Before the new police chief was sworn into office, Acting City Manager Mark Calhoun said that Werner is “well qualified for what we’re looking for in a police chief.” Werner takes over for retiring Chief Rick VanLeuven.
Council members also kicked off its search for a new city manager, authorizing staff to spend approximately $35,000 to hire an external recruitment firm. Before authorizing the spending, two community members spoke in support of Calhoun keeping the job.
“You got a good man over there,” said Tony Lazanis. “Keep him, he’ll do a wonderful job.”
Woodard said that Calhoun would certainly be encouraged to apply, but an outside firm is needed to look at a wide range of prospects.
Calhoun will serve as acting city manager until Nov. 18 or unless a new city manager is hired before then. The council has the ability to extend that date if necessary.
Higgins, Wood, Woodard and Pace requested Jackson’s resignation on Feb. 23 after he had been in the job since 2010. He refused and then negotiated with the city while on administrative leave to work out a termination agreement before eventually resigning.
On Tuesday, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin reported that Jackson had accepted a job as interim city administrator for College Place, Wash. Jackson took the post through Prothman Co. of Issaquah, which was hired to find candidates to replace former College Place City Administrator Pat Reay and Police Chief Dennis Lepiane.
Jackson is scheduled to start his new job July 5.