The Lakewood City Council sketched out Monday night the first steps it will take to fill the seat being vacated by Mayor Doug Richardson.
Voters elected Richardson to the Pierce County Council last month. Richardson is the last remaining member of the original council that started work when Lakewood became a city in 1996. His tenure on the council equals the combined experience of the other six council members.
The council will begin soliciting letters of interest from residents this week. Residents should include in the letter why they are interested in the position and why their background makes them a good fit. They can also attach a resume. (I’ll update this to include the details for submittal once I receive them, likely today.)
The letters are due by Jan. 10. The council will review them at its Jan. 14 study session and determine next steps to whittle down the list. The council is scheduled to vote on an appointee Feb. 4.
Council rules gives the elected body 90 days to fill a vacancy. If it’s unable to, the mayor would make the appointment from nominations by other council members. If that process is unsuccessful after 90 days, state law dictates the task falls to the Pierce County Council.
Although the council would legally have until mid-April to find Richardson’s replacement, Councilman Jason Whalen said it would be wise not to stretch out the search too long.
City Manager Andrew Neiditz, who has held that job since 2005, has been recommended to become the first director of South Sound 9-1-1, Pierce County’s new emergency communications system. A board is scheduled to meet Wednesday and could vote to hire Neiditz then or at a future meeting.
“I think having two processes up in the air at the same time could be distracting,” Whalen said.
Council members agreed it would be difficult to make an appointment before or shortly after Richardson departs because of the holidays and preparations for the Martin Luther King Jr. community event.
The council has made at least two prior appointments. In 2002, it appointed Andie Gernon to finish an unexpired term. Former councilman John Arbeeny defeated her in the subsequent election.
In 2003, the council appointed John Simpson to the council to fill in when Richardson was called into military service. Richardson, a retired brigadier general in the Army Reserve, received orders to deploy to Afghanistan following the U.S.-led invasion.
Monday’s council meeting was the final one of the year.
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