For the third month in a row, Goldendale has lost a city council member.
Shannon Middleton resigned in April, Julie Buck moved away in May, and Kevin Feiock announced his reluctant resignation Monday night. He said he had been out of the state for several months “for domestic reasons” and realized that he could not continue as councilor under state law. In an unusual twist, in May he filed for re-election, and it is too late to remove his name from the ballot. He was running unopposed and so will undoubtedly win that election. And he may indeed rejoin the council after the election.
“I did not want to do this,” he said Monday night. “I have to follow the RCW. I have to follow the law. This was not something I wanted to do, and I still hope to come back to the city. To my city.”
City Administrator Larry Bellamy outlined what has become an increasingly complex situation. He said state law requires that in the event of a resignation, the remaining members of the council have 90 days to appoint a replacement. The usual process is to publish notice that the city is accepting letters of application from people who would like to be appointed, conduct interviews of those who submit letters, then vote to choose one of the applicants. But Bellamy noted that both the number six and number seven positions, held by Middleton and Buck respectively, had been noticed twice in The Goldendale Sentinel, and no applications have been received.
He also pointed out that in the election filings last month that Elie Casey had filed for Position Six and was running unopposed, that former city councilor Steve Johnston had filed for Position Seven and was running unopposed, that Kevin Fieock had filed for his Position Five and was unopposed, and that Ashley Cooper had filed for Position 4 to run against Miland Waling. After much discussion, councilors decided that at the next meeting they would appoint Casey, Johnston, and Cooper to fill the empty chairs, since they are the only members of the public who have shown interest.
That could lead to some interesting results following the election. Councilors will logically appoint Casey to Position Six and Johnston to Position Seven. Since both are running unopposed, they will be elected in November to those same posts, but the council will have to appoint Cooper to Kevin Feiock’s newly vacant Position Five.
Now comes the fun. It’s too late to change the ballot, so come November’s election, there are several possibilities. Fieock will be unopposed for Position Five and will win. If he is able to return to Goldendale, he will be reseated. Meanwhile, Cooper will still be on the ballot running against Miland Walling for Position Four.
If she loses to Walling and Fieock is able to return, she will be out. If she loses to Walling and Fieock can’t return, the council could easily reappoint her to Position Five. But if she defeats Walling, she will move to his Position Four. And in that case, should Fieock not be able to return after the election, it opens the possibility that the council could appoint Walling to Position Five.
It was a busy night for the council. They also approved adding city water service to a proposed new four-home development outside city limits, and a cost-sharing agreement between the city and Stillwater Ministries on construction of a new sewer line to serve the proposed new youth center, and they set up a special committee to make a smooth transition for the retirements of City Administrator Larry Bellamy and City Clerk-Treasurer Connie Byers, which has been announced for July 2022.
In other news, Police Chief Jay Hunziker announced that the Goldendale Police Department had joined with other law enforcement groups in Klickitat County to purchase a special drug incinerator. This, he said, would save them having to haul the items all the way to Spokane for incineration.