Kate McBride tabbed for open Hood River city council seat

Januar 11, 2012

Persistence paid off for Kate McBride.

The long-time planning commissioner interviewed for a spot on the city council for the second time in three months Monday, and this time earned a spot behind the council table in the newly remodeled chambers.

McBride had previously applied in October for the position vacated by Dawna Armstrong. She didn't get a spot then, but applied again when council president Ann Frodel announced her resignation last month.

This time around McBride was a unanimous pick, including the approval of newly appointed council president Ed Weathers, who beat her out for the previous appointment in October.

McBride was the most experienced of the three candidates who applied for the position. The other applicants were two-year budget committee member and small business owner Ross Brown, and Jennifer Gulizia, a small business owner, former US Bank branch manager and recent addition to the planning commission.

McBride is a lifelong county resident who has lived in the city since 2004, and said she wants to emphasize her planning experience as well as affordable housing during her time on the council.

"I'm looking forward to the planning session in February," she said. "My passion is in planning but the thing I'll be pushing is affordable housing."

McBride will serve out the remaining year of Frodel's term before deciding if she will run again.

"I'm just looking at the next year to begin with," she said. "But I won't rule out running at this point."

Mayor Arthur Babitz said after Weathers was appointed in October, Frodel's resignation last month proved to be the right time to add McBride to the council.

"We've all been aware of Kate's skills for the last seven years on the planning commission," he said. "We're glad she was willing to step up to this position."

McBride will take the oath of office prior to the Jan. 23 council meeting.

Also at Monday's meeting:

The council heard from City Manager Bob Francis and Fire Chief Devon Wells about negotiating a contract with Cascade Locks to allow Wells to serve as a consulting interim chief in Cascade Locks until June.

Wells is currently working as a consultant for Cascade Locks approximately 15-20 hours a week in addition to his Chief's duties in Hood River, but has no decision making authority.

The Cascade Locks fire department has been undergoing reorganization in recent months following the resignation of chief Jeff Pritchard. Wells said when he began consulting for Cascade Locks he gave the city the option of either making Jess Zerfing chief, hiring a chief, or giving the interim city administrator chief's duties.

"They were not comfortable with any of those," he said.

The Hood River City Council agreed to negotiate a contract with Cascade Locks which would allow Wells to be a consulting interim chief in Cascade Locks so long as it did not interfere with his duties in Hood River.

"I think we made it clear what our concerns were. I'm feeling more comfortable with it. I would just like to see it," said councilman Laurent Picard, a Portland firefighter, of Wells contract with Cascade Locks.

Francis said he felt having Wells working with Cascade Locks was a good way to bring the cities together and to provide stability in the area, sentiments Babitz later echoed.

"Anyone driving on the freeway wants a functioning fire department in Cascade Locks," he said.

The council approved $6,500 to hire a temporary administrative assistant through April to fill in for another assistant who is out on medical leave.

Francis said hiring a temporary employee is cheaper than attempting to have current city staff pick up the slack, as the city is having to pay overtime for staff members to handle extra duties.

Council member Jeff Nichols suggested that the city budget include some money every year to be able to hire temporary workers when necessary.

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