Six weeks after the election, the City of Myrtle Creek knows who will make up its city council next year.
City Council unanimously appointed Katherine Otero to City Council Position 4 Tuesday night after holding public interviews with Otero and two other candidates. Otero will assume the position when Councilor Gail Black’s term ends in January.
Last month, City Council declared Position 4 vacant after the candidate who was elected to the seat said she cannot serve because she is moving out of town.
Two days after the election, residents of Myrtle Creek still don’t know who will be their ma…
Myrtle Creek residents Diana Larson, Dale James and Otero, who was the runner-up in the election, submitted applications to fill the seat by the Dec. 13 deadline.
At the Dec. 4 City Council meeting, Black made a motion to appoint Otero to the seat. Councilor Susan Harris seconded Black’s motion. Both councilors rescinded their motions, however, after Mayor Ken Brouillard questioned whether the public should be informed of the vacant seat.
City Council decided to make the seat available to applicants after Larson, who was sitting in the audience, said she would be interested in the position. Larson ran a write-in campaign for Mayor of Myrtle Creek in the recent election after no one filed to run for the position. Matthew Hald, who attended Tuesday’s interviews, won the write-in mayoral election, receiving 41 votes to Larson’s 18.
A week after Election Day, Myrtle Creek has its mayor.
Otero, a former employee of the Myrtle Creek-based technology company Umpqua Research, has been a resident of Myrtle Creek for 27 years. She is retired and serves as the secretary of both the Myrtle Creek Lions Club and the South Douglas Food Bank Board. She also volunteers at the Myrtle Creek Library.
Before the interviews began Tuesday, Mayor Ken Brouillard had the three candidates draw a card from a deck. The cards determined the order in which the candidates would be interviewed with the lower cards going first. The other two candidates waited outside the council chambers while the interviews, which took close to 15 minutes each, took place inside.
Brouillard asked the questions, which were written by members of City Council. The questions tested the candidates’ knowledge of City Council procedures, such as how an executive session works and how often does City Council meet. Additionally, Brouillard asked the candidates what they think are the city’s assets, with what city issues they’re concerned and what they would do in certain situations such as if they disagreed with a City Council action.
Brouillard also asked Larson and James why they hadn’t filed the paperwork to run for the position during the election. Larson, who has been the treasurer of the Umpqua Valley Humane Society Board for 16 years, said that she was unaware that there was an election for the seat in time to file the paperwork. James, a former volunteer firefighter and police officer who is currently a gaming inspector with the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, only considered serving after the seat was declared vacant and friends approached him to ask if he would apply.
Black said Otero’s running in the election was a factor in her decision to vote for the candidate.
“I’m a Lion, I’m dedicated to the Lions,” Otero said when asked to describe her background. “It’s hard for me to say who I am because I look at myself as part of the community. Most of my life revolves around volunteering.”
When Brouillard asked what city issues she planned to address if appointed, Otero said she didn’t have any except that the city recently removed some street lights.
Before all three candidates were called before the councilors to begin voting, Brouillard also explained City Council’s intent with the questions.
“As you can see, no one candidate knew all the answers,” Brouillard said. “And that was never the intention. The intention was to see how they responded and to see how they felt under pressure. So I think we did a good job on that.”
Councilors didn’t deliberate in private before voting. After the vote, councilors said they would have been happy with any of the three candidates.
Otero will be sworn in at the Jan. 15 City Council meeting.