After a close election in May for two Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District board members, a new seat became available after Veronica Russell stepped down in June.
At the July district board meeting, members John Chapman and Lindsey Morrison joined board president Jeremy Mills and vice president Michael Hinton in seeking to determine the process of appointing a fifth board member.
Candidate interviews take place at a board workshop on Tuesday, Aug. 13, at 5:15 p.m.
“I think because it’s an elected position, we should take the person with the next highest votes,” Morrison said.
Three people have expressed interest in filling that position: Katharine Parker, Patrick Duhachek and Rodney Roberts, executive director Skyler Archibald said.
In the contested election for Chapman’s Position 4 seat, the first runner-up was Parker, who got more votes overall than Duhachek, runner-up in the Position 5 race, and Roberts, also a candidate in the Position 5 race.
Mills said comparing election numbers from two different races was not a solid basis for the choice.
“We saw people competing against people where it would have been a different result if they had competed against others,” Mills said. “The idea that we take the general results of the voting could in some ways be unfair to the other people who were involved, if they were in a different batch.
“If we did it the way the voters would want it, we’d have to have a run-off election,” Mills said.
“Even though it was two positions, the voters still voted for people,” Morrison said. “I think we should take that into consideration. I just want to make sure we’re doing what voters wanted.”
Russell served as board secretary before her decision to step down. Her term would have expired on June 30, 2021.
The application period is closed.
In the past, board candidates came in for a short interview and board members made their selection based on the interview and other personal interactions. But “that isn’t necessarily the way you have to go,” he said.
All three potential board members should be given a chance to interview for the vacancy, Chapman said. “All three are neutral candidates, they’re all coming in as a clean slate and that’s how they should be viewed.”
“We have to have a transparent public process,” board member Michael Hinton said. “We can’t sit here in a meeting and just appoint anyone as a board.”
Ultimately the board unanimously agreed to interview each of the applicants for the position separately.
“I think there were good candidates for each of the positions,” Hinton said. “Some have established experience in public service or board.”
Hinton sought interviews with the candidates, he said. “I’d like to meet some of these people again who are applying for this vacancy. We have one thing in common: we’re interested in a positive outcome for the district in the long term. We have to have a transparent public process.
“We can’t sit here in a meeting and just appoint anyone as a board.”