The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Council selects new member amid executive session controversy


The only note of controversy arising from Monday’s special meeting of the Goldendale city council occurred in the audience when a motion was passed by the council to go into a brief executive session.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Carmen Knopes was elected by the council to fill Mike Canon’s seat vacated when he became mayor.

When the council left the room to go into executive session, many faces in the audience were clouded with doubt.

“What are they doing?” asked Deanna Luth, herself a council member but recused from the selection process because her former husband was one of the candidates. “They’re going in to discuss the qualifications of the candidates? They’ve been listening to them for an hour and a half.” Others voiced concern over what appeared to be a lack of transparency.

Seven candidates had volunteered for the vacant position. Six showed up and were questioned. There was a sole no-show, Darlene Williamson. The six present were Mike Goodwin, Terry Luth, Knopes, Sue Ward, Elaynna James, and Arletta Parton.

Four council members were present to form a quorum and vote on the candidates: Gary Hoctor, Andy Halm, Len Crawford, and Lucille Bevis. The meeting was led by the mayor and facilitated by City Administrator Larry Bellamy.

Bellamy went over the ground rules. Candidates, he recounted, had to be a registered voter and a resident of the city for at least one year. Voting could not be in secret; each council member would write his or her votes on a slip of paper and the votes would then be read openly. Each council member would vote for his or her top two choices, and selection would move from there.

A total of nine questions were posed to each candidate. They were:

• Describe your education, work experience, and background in community involvement

• Why are you interested in serving on the council and what do you hope to accomplish?

• What assets or strengths do you bring?

• What is your vision for our community?

• What are your two highest priorities for the city and how would you address them?

• Describe how you feel the community should facilitate growth

• How should the city prioritize its economic development?

• Briefly explain your thought process for voting on issues that affect the city and its residents

• During the last few years the issue of dark sky has come up, with the city proposing to replace street lights with LEDs; what else can the city do to help the Observatory?

Over the next 90 minutes candidates remarked variously in response to the queries. Luth told the council he lived in a black-and-white world where things were plainly one way or another. James commented on the drug problem in the city, as did almost every other candidate, saying, “Many people don’t know a lot of people, and a lot of that is because they don’t want to.” Parton lamented the lack of progress in town after an all-day meeting on growth six years that had yet to produce significant results.

The council went through a first round of voting in which three votes were cast for Knopes, two each for Luth and James, and one for Parton. Agreement was reached to go another round for the top three vote-getters in order to break the second-place tie, whereupon councilman Crawford moved to go into executive session. Bellamy reminded the council that RCWs permitted such an executive session but only for the purpose of discussing candidate qualifications. Upon the council’s return, another vote was taken, this time resulting in four votes for Knopes and a tie again for Luth and James with two votes each. Discussion began on whether or not to do another round of voting when Halm moved to simply elect Knopes. The motion passed, and she was then elected unanimously.


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