Following the virtual interviews of 11 candidates on Tuesday evening, Mark Westley was appointed by existing councilors to fill the vacancy on Centralia City Council left by Peter Abbarno, who resigned after being elected to serve as a state representative.
The following citizens applied for the city council at-large position No. 3: Mark Westley, Jan Rockwell Nontell, Chris Brewer, Tabitha Abel, Norm Chapman, Michael L Green, Erland Matthew (Matt) Evans, Monique A Farland, Leah J Daarud, Steven Hubbard and Kurtis Engle.
Westley has spent his career working in education, employed as a math teacher at Centralia Middle School for over two decades. He currently teaches at Adna High School. Westley was sworn into the council position at Centralia City Hall on Wednesday afternoon. He will serve as a city councilor for at least 10 months until he must run in the next election to be voted in by the citizens.
The councilors said they were looking for a candidate who has a breadth of knowledge, a vision for the city, a commitment to public service and familiarity with city council meetings.
The mayor and the five city councilors each asked every candidate the same questions. They asked for the candidates’ thoughts on dealing with large city projects, their vision for sustainable growth in the city, qualities they feel are important in a leader and if they think national events will impact their decisions on a local level.
Councilor Max Vogt said he was impressed with Westley’s answers to the interview questions. He said that he appreciated that Westley made it clear that citizens should come first and noted the importance of having high-quality schools and the impacts it has on the local economy.
“It’s important for me that this is a 10-month position so I want someone who I feel like can just step into this,” Vogt said.
Six of the 11 candidates received a nomination after some discussion among councilors — Micheal Green, Mark Westley, Chris Brewer, Leah Daarud, Norm Chapman and Jan Nontell.
When voting began, Green received three votes and Westley received five votes — ending the voting with a majority.
The councilors encouraged the candidates who were not chosen to run for the council positions that will be up for reelection at the end of the year.
The Jan. 5 special council meeting with all candidate interviews will be available to view on the city’s website by the end of the day Wednesday, according to Bilodeau.