WALLA WALLA -- The City Council elected a new mayor last night; Barbara Clark was appointed after winning four Council member votes, giving her the one-vote majority needed to win the post for the next two years.Alfred Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8325.
Jerry Cummins was the only other Council member nominated and carried three votes.
The last time a woman served as mayor was in the early 1990s.
"I am really pleased with the outcome," Clark said, and added that neither gender nor partisan politics has or will play any significant role in her serving on Council and as mayor.
"I don't see any issues relating around the fact that I am a woman, which is a good thing. I see the Council as being a problem-solving body, not an ideological one," she said.
Clark has served 12 years on the Council and was elected for a term as mayor pro-tem several years ago. Voting for Clark were Jim Barrow, Fred Mitchell and newly appointed Council member Conrado Cavazos, who took ex-Mayor Dan Johnson's seat.
Voting for Cummins were Dominick Elia and Shane Laib. All Council members were present.
But even before the votes for mayor had been cast, it seemed some Council members knew who would become mayor.
Clark said when she walked in to the chambers to take her regular seat at the far side of the curved row of seven chairs, she noticed her name tag had been moved to the mayor's spot at the center.
Clark said she asked Mayor Pro-Tem Cummins to switch spots with her, since he would officially act as mayor until a new one was appointed. So they switched seats. But only minutes later they switch again, as the new mayor took her official center seat.
"I have to say I am going to miss my spot on the end because from here you can see everyone so much better, but from there you always have your back to someone," she said.
Barrow was elected mayor pro-tem, with supporting votes from Clark, Mitchell and Cavazos. Laib was also nominated for mayor pro-tem, but only received supporting votes from Elia and Cummins.