College Place council picks new member

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COLLEGE PLACE — After interviewing two candidates Monday, City Council members filled one of two council seats vacated by resignations in May.

Loren Peterson, financial controller for Walla Walla General Hospital, was chosen for the Position 4 seat. The seat had been held by David Beamer, who resigned the post after moving out of the city.

Prior to taking a vote on the candidates, Peterson and Scott Keller, a former U.S. Marine who now works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, were each interviewed separately by council members. The questions covered a wide range of topics, including how to improve communications with citizens, what businesses they would like to see locate in the city and how they would work to implement issues they felt were important.

Peterson drew some chuckles with his reply of what businesses he would like to see encouraged.

“A gas station open on Saturday,” he said.

On a more serious note, he said he would like to see more traveler-friendly businesses such as upper-end restaurants and hotels. He said he would also like to “revisit the Costco (issue)” referring to the attempt to have the large retailer open a College Place store.

Councilman Larry Dickerson asked Peterson how he would work to implement an issue he felt strongly about.

“I don’t think I’m a one-issue person,” Peterson replied. “I’m a consensus builder, I’ve never wanted to push an issue.”

He said he would be willing to allow city staff to advocate for issues and listen to their advice.

“I have to assume the city employees have done their work,” he said.

After the interviews, council members William Jenkins, Marge Nyhagen, Bernie Yanke, Dickerson and Alexander Scott, along with Mayor Rick Newby and City Administrator Pat Reay, met in executive session to discuss the appointment.

Reconvening in open session, they voted 4-1 to choose Peterson, with Yanke the lone “no” vote. By council rules, the mayor does not vote except in the case of a tie.

Peterson will serve the remainder of Beamer’s term, which expires in 2015.

Council members are scheduled to repeat the selection process again later this month when they choose a replacement for the Position 1 seat, which had been vacated by the resignation of Steve Dickerson, who also had to resign in May after moving out of the city.

Dickerson’s seat is up for election this year. Two candidates, Julie Scott and Wesley Bernal, have filed for election to the post, which will be held Nov. 5.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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