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Enumclaw Council Narrows Candidate Pool to 3 for Vacant Seat

A attorney, a local business owner and teacher will be returning to the next Enumclaw City Council meeting on Jan. 28 for a final round of questions before one person is selected to fill the seat vacated by the death of Kevin Mahelona last November.

The six current members of the Enumclaw City Council on Monday selected the final three candidates out of a pool of eight to fill the seat left vacant last year by the untimely death of colleague Kevin Mahelona.

Following some deliberation during an executive session at the end of Monday's meeting, Julie Reece-DeMarco, Kyle Diercks and Mike Sando were invited to return to the next council meeting on Jan. 28 for further questions, said Mayor Pro Tempore Sean Krebs.

Reece-DeMarco, an attorney who was also a member of the Washington Council of School Attorneys, having previously worked in the Kent School District, said listening, compassion and preparation were three lessons she's learned from her previous experience that she can apply to serving on the Enumclaw City Council.

Diercks, who has a professional background in international business and marketing, may be best known locally for co-owning Mountain Aire Mercantile in Enumclaw. It was his family's choice to put roots down in Enumclaw because "I have a passion for this community," he said. The local deli, cafe and store is a place he envisions as supporting that "sense of community," where citizens can come in and talk, he said.

Sando, currently a history and government teacher at Enumclaw High School and track coach, has nine years of experience working to support lawmakers in the state Legislature. He has been the president of the Enumclaw Education Assocation for the last five years. Sando said he understands the "new paradigm of building partnerships" between public and private entities with the end goal of "being able to do more with less."

The three were joined by:

  • Pamela Harding, who sits on the board of the Enumclaw Schools Foundation;
  • Carl Sanders, local owner of three businesses in Enumclaw
  • Mathew Suhoversnik, who describes himself as a fourth-generation Enumclaw citizen; and
  • Layne Virgin, a local accountant and close friend of Mahelona

on Monday as each took their allotted five minutes to share their backgrounds with the council members.

An eigth candidate, current Enumclaw Civil Service Commissioner Jan Molinaro was not able to attend. While the council does not intend to reopen the pool of candidates on Jan. 28, Molinaro is still invited to address council during the public hearing portion of that meeting, Krebs said.

The city first started soliciting interested citizens in December to potentially fill the position and in the short time since then received several letters of interest in resumes, according to Krebs.

"It's really inspiring to see so many people interested in this position now," he said.

Though only one person will be chosen for the position which will run through 2013, this year's November election actually finds four council seats up for re-election - along with the position of mayor, and Krebs encouraged those who are not chosen to continue pursuing their interest in public service.

Councillman Jim Hogan agreed, describing the candidates as all having "stellar backgrounds." He continued, "I don't want anyone walking away feeling like you weren't 'up' for being on council," he said.

Mayor Liz Reynolds reminded the candidates that there were several positions on local boards and commissions that also remain vacant and could use the experience and insights of these engaged citizens.

"The more that we have folks like yourselves that are willing to do this, the better our community is going to be," said Councilman Darrel Dickson. "The more competition, the more ideas - win or lose - it's going to make our community better."

Council expects to possibly choose their candidate at the Jan. 28 meeting which would also include the swearing-in of that person, Krebs said.

In Other News:

Clean Audit Reports: Finance director Stephanie McKenzie went the recent clean findings of city operations for 2011 by the Washington State Auditor's Office. "Overall, a very good year for the city," she said.

Street Improvements Coming: The city was recently awarded three Washington State Transportation Improvement Board grants for a total of $470,342. Projects include updated a 600-foot section of sidewalk on Semanski Street south of Warner; a Battersby Avenue overlay from Railroad Street to Porter Street; and a second overlay project on 244th Avenue SE from SE 440th St. to SE 448th St. City matching funds and other costs would come from impact fees and REET money - already approved in the 2013 budget.

Court Agreement: Though the city of Maple Valley has relocated its court services to Kent, Council approved an agreement where Enumclaw would oversee a portion of the city's caseload - all of them having already been adjudicated - where Enumclaw staff continue to collect the fines levied by the court.

Three RFPs for City Golf Course: The city of Enumclaw has received three proposals for the management of the golf course.

100th Birthday for Enumclaw: Schools Superintendent Mike Nelson invited Council to be a part of the Centennial dinner at the Expo Center Field House on Jan. 27. It will be an evening of stories and an opportunity to share them with fellow citizens. Tickets cost $25 and the deadline to RSVP is Saturday, Jan. 19. Learn more.

Blood Drive: The city of Enumclaw is

Enumclaw Schools Foundation: The ESF is hosting 'Jazzing Up Education 3rd Annual Luncheon' on Feb. 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Expo Center Field House. The cost is free though space is limited. To attend, please RSVP by Jan. 31 at www.EnumclawSchoolsFoundation.org.

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