By Jack Mayne

While no formal vote was taken, discussions by the SeaTac City Council at its Tuesday night meeting (June 9, 2020) revealed that four members wanted the Council to choose a replacement for the vacant seat from a list of prior applicants for a previous open position, with final decision likely be made at the next regular session on June 23.

The Council will decide on how to go about appointing an interim replacement for recently resigned Councilmember Joel Wachtel, who has moved and is living in Tampa, Fla.

Decision by August
Kristina Gregg, the SeaTac city clerk, told Council Tuesday night that the law says the vacancy must be filled in 90 days, by August 29, 2020, or else the King County Council can appoint someone to the job.

Since the city has no formal plan for filling vacancies, she offered a plan with four options. One could be to develop an entirely new system, the second would be have a motion for members to appoint someone for the job, the third proposal from Gregg wold be seek new applications for interviews and Council selection.

The fourth plan would be to use the January 2019 list of applicants and chose one of the four candidates who have already been interviewed by Councilmembers. The negatives include not taking into consideration of new people interested in the job.

Two want new applicants
Councilmembers Gobena and Senayet Negusse preferred seeking new applicants, then to interview them and chose from the new list. Negusse also suggested using past applications but also considering new applicants. She said she was opposed to choosing from a list of only those previously interviewed for a past Council choice. Gobena said this decision to pick from a previous list is a bad precedent for the Council, in effect leaving out thousands of other SeaTac residents.

Pam Fernald, the longest serving member of the Council, wanted to choose from previously interviewed applicants. Similarly, Councilmember Clyde Hill wanted the Council to appoint a person who was a previous applicant, and consider new applicants.

Councilmember Peter Kwon said “this is really tough,” but said he favored choosing from previously interviewed but not selected candidates, mainly due to the shortness to time to make a decision.

Mayor Erin Sitterley said she was conflicted, but with timing and the need to be ready for new decisions, she would recommend the fourth option, pick from the list of previously interview past applicants.

City Clerk Kristina Gregg said councilmembers could still listen to previous audio interviews with the candidates.

Executive session needed
Still needed is to schedule a meeting in executive session to discuss applicants and then appoint a Councilmember in open session, potentially between June 12 and June 20. The new member could sworn as soon as June 23.

Kwon asked if it was appropriate to meet individually with applicants and City Attorney Mary Mirante Bartolo said the Council should act as a group and not as individuals.

Kerstin Torrescano

‘Zero to $30 an hour’
Kerstin Torrescano, compliance director for apprenticeship for Nontraditional Employment for Women, has an apprenticeship and non traditional employment training, known as “ANEW.”

Torrescano told Council that six people have gone through its training program and the program is working to continue training during the pandemic.

“Getting started up with new rules and doing things in this new and unusual way that we didn’t think we were going to have to do thing, but its working out and people are excited to get back to training. We obviously have a large number of people who are unemployed so this is a great time to do workforce training,” Torrescano told the Council members.

She noted that to enter the program a person has to take a drug test and with marijuana legal in the state, “that is a problem. If you want to be in the construction trades, you can’t smoke weed.”

Jobs are available
Torrescano said ANEW was teaching people that there is more available in construction trades, because there are many jobs opening due to retirement amongst other reasons, Torrescano said.

“There is not a real good education on what is even available in in the construction trades,” she said. “They don’t even know about sheet metal and all of the different types of carpenters that are out there, all of the other types of careers — ironworkers and the finishing trades and all the other options that are out there.”

“I take people from zero income to $30 an hour in eleven weeks, they (say) ’that’s crazy, you can’t do that, but we do.”

30 years
Treasury Operations Manager Ruth Black was recognized for 30 years of service, one of the first people hired by the then-new City of SeaTac.