Timeline set to replace Port Townsend City Council member

Applications open in June, candidate selected in August

PORT TOWNSEND — Applications for Port Townsend residents interested in filling out the remainder Aislinn Palmer’s city council term will be accepted starting June 14 and council members plan to select a candidate in early August.

Palmer, who was elected in 2022, announced earlier this month she is resigning from the council for personal reasons effective May 31. The replacement for her Position 2 seat will serve through the end of 2025.

At their regular meeting Monday, the council set out a schedule for receiving applications, interviewing candidates and deciding on a replacement.

“It’s with a heavy heart that we talk about how to do this process for the first time at least since I’ve been here,” City Manager John Mauro said. “So we want to get it right because it really matters for local democracy.”

State law gives the council 90 days to select a replacement before the decision is turned over to the Board of Jefferson County Commissioners, and council members have said they would prefer to make the decision themselves.

According to the schedule adopted Monday, applications will be open from June 5 to July 5 following a council workshop to draft questions and agree on a format for the application. Council members will hold a special executive session on July 15 to determine finalists for the interview process.

Council members will hold candidate interviews during a special business meeting from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. July 23 with additional deliberations and decisions made on Aug. 5. The decision will be communicated to the public Aug. 7, and the new council member will attend their first meeting on Aug. 12.

To be eligible for the position, an applicant must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, a Washington resident and have resided within Port Townsend city limits for at least a year.

Council members did not finalize application or interview questions at Monday’s meeting, but staff did provide example questions for the council to consider.

Suggested questions to be answered in written form with a candidate’s application included “what experience and skills do you have that you believe align with the role and our challenges/opportunities?” and “how might you focus those skills and experience during your term?”

Potential interview questions included “tell us of a time you made a significant mistake and what you did afterward. What did you learn from the experience?” and “how do you take care of yourself, particularly during stressful or difficult times?”

Applicants will be given 30 minutes each for interviews at the special meeting July 23.

All materials from applicants are public records and will be available on the city website. Some applicants may be asked to interview with the council during a public meeting.

According to meeting documents, there is currently no known job description for city council members. Staff have suggested including an “About the Port Townsend City Council” page in the application packet.

City councilis a part-time job with a monthly salary of $725 as of January 2024. In 2025, that monthly amount will be raised to $775 and to $800 in 2026.

A majority of the council is able to form a workgroup for health coverage and apply for medical benefits through the Association of Washington Cities. While that benefit remains possible, the current council majority has not requested coverage so there is none at this time.

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached by email at peter.segall@peninsulanews.us.

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