Decision on District 5 seat on County Council forwarded to Gov. Jay Inslee

The decision on which of three final candidates for the District 5 seat on the Clark County Council is headed to the office of Gov. Jay Inslee.
(L to R) Karen Dill Bowerman, Temple Lentz, Gary Medvigy and Julie Olson

Councilors Temple Lentz and Julie Olson say they can not support any of the three candidates interviewed Tuesday

The decision on which of three final candidates for the District 5 seat on the Clark County Council is headed to the office of Gov. Jay Inslee.

Dick Rylander
Dick Rylander

The four current members of the County Council interviewed candidates Dick Rylander, Thomas Schenk and Peter Silliman Tuesday. The three candidates were chosen from a list of applicants for the position by County Chair Karen Dill Bowerman during a process following the March 1 resignation of Councilor Eileen Quiring O’Brien.

After asking each candidate the same seven questions during 40-minute individual interviews held in a virtual format, the current councilors met in executive session before returning to the public meeting. At that time, Councilor Gary Medvigy made a motion to nominate Dick Rylander for the vacant position, which represents areas of North Clark County. Chair Bowerman seconded the motion.

“He was very articulate and he has broad experience, diversity-oriented experience as a family man and in his family,’’ Medvigy said of Rylander. “He is certainly very well invested in this county … He’s basically embedded in many aspects of the community.

“With this newly created district, North County needs representation,’’ Medvigy said. “District 5 is now unrepresented for the foreseeable future. It is important and incumbent upon us to have a full council with diversity of opinion and thought.’’ 

The councilors were then given time for discussion, during which councilors Temple Lentz and Julie Olson indicated they would not support the nomination of Rylander.

“There were unfortunately things I heard in all of the respondents that created problems with me being able to vote for one of the candidates,’’ Lentz said. “At this moment, I’m not able to support this motion.’’

Olson followed with a similar statement.

“I also had some issues with a few questions, really important questions for me,’’ said Olson, who brought up comments made regarding the councilors’ roles as members of the Board of Health. “This a really important decision at a really important time.’’ 

The process for appointing a replacement for the District 5 seat gave the councilors 60 days for the process. If they were unable to reach a majority decision, state law then calls for the decision to be forwarded to the governor’s office. 

Medvigy then made a motion to do just that, which Bowerman seconded. All four councilors then voted in agreement to send the decision to Gov. Inslee, who will have 30 days to appoint a candidate from the three finalists.

“District 5 used to be my district,’’ Medvigy said. “I feel really bad they are not represented and we are not a full council until they are.’’

Olson raised the possibility for the council to seek other applicants for the vacant position. However, Bowerman read from the applicable RCW and stated the council had fulfilled its instruction and forwarding the process to the governor was the appropriate next step.

Bowerman attempted to conduct the candidate interviews on March 2, the first day allowed by the RCW. However, both Lentz and Olson said the county chair was rushing the process. The current members of the council then attempted to set another date and the first time both Lentz and Olson indicated they were each available was Tuesday (March 29). 

At the time, Medvigy expressed frustration with the lack of urgency displayed by the two councilors for filling the vacancy. On Tuesday, Medvigy expressed disappointment the county would have to wait an additional 30 days for a decision from the governor.

“It appears we have a deadlock, a deadlock we may see replicated over and over again in every action before us until we get a fifth councilor,’’ Medvigy said.

Since January 2014, Rylander has served as president of BioPharmaceutical Strategies LLC, and since September 2016 he has volunteered as executive in residence at Oregon Health and Science University to assist researchers, physicians and faculty in assessing the commercialization potential for technologies including diagnostics, devices, drugs and digital products. 

Prior to serving as a contract employee to oversee Federal Agency seizure processes, Schenk was a criminal investigator and senior special agent with the United States Customs Service and a Special Agent with the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, beginning his career in Los Angeles and retiring in Portland. His specialties were financial crimes and money laundering.

Silliman, of La Center, owns his own business to complete telecommunications work requests requiring the rearrangement of copper pairs or fiber, drawing from his experience as technician, construction manager, splicing manager and senior engineer.  From 2014 to 2016, he served as research analyst in Clark County, representing the County Council or individual councilors in their oversight of county government.  He was elected to serve on the Home Rule Charter Board where he volunteered as a freeholder for Clark County in 2014.

Clark Co. WA Communications contributed information to this report.

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