Othello council creates full-time mayor position

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OTHELLO — The Othello City Council on Monday voted unanimously to give itself the power to hire the mayor as the city’s full-time administrator as well.

“We’ve carefully considered this and it makes sense,” said Mayor Shawn Logan. “I’m aware of our projects, I know what’s going on, I’m from here, I have the experience and support of the staff.”

The council did not hire Logan to fill the city administrator position on Monday.

The ordinance change does not require the council to hire the mayor as the city administrator, but only gives them the option to do so if they choose. While there was significant support for the measure among council members, the council decided to wait until its next meeting to vote on the appointment. Councilmembers Eugene Bain and Mark Snyder did not attend the Monday meeting.

Wade Farris, who has been Othello’s city administrator for the last five years, is leaving to take the administrator position in Gig Harbor. Monday was his last council meeting. While there was significant support for the measure, and for Logan’s appointment as full-time mayor/ administrator, there was some concern for a time when Logan will not be mayor. “How do we separate the mayor from the administrator when the two become one?” asked long-time city resident Dale Wyman.

“If the mayor leaves, suddenly we have two positions open and not just one.”

Wyman asked the council for more time to solicit opinion from residents, and simply to take more time and be deliberate in their decision. “Look at it for another week or two weeks. This is not going to go away, so make sure this is where you want to go,” he said. According to City Attorney Kelly Konkright, Othello has a council-mayor form of government that makes the mayor the chief executive but by ordinance devolves his power to an appointed city administrator.

“I proposed this three years ago when Wade first said he was looking for another position,” said Councilmember John Lallas. “I’m all for this. There’s no reason not to do this.”

“At any point, we can decide to do the opposite,” said Councilmember Genna Dorrow.

Logan, a former Adams County commissioner who has been politically active for many years, said he “fully intends” to sell his business, Basin Insurance, so that he has the time to work full-time running the city of Othello.

The city currently has several significant projects in the works, including the redrilling of one of its major water wells, a substantial residential development on the north side of town, and efforts to encourage more business in the city.

The city council also voted to hold a public hearing on Monday, Aug. 13, to solicit input from residents on proposed changes restricting “accessory dwelling units,” sometimes called “motherin- law apartments,” and changes to the city’s rules governing on-street parking.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at countygvt@columbiabasinherald.com

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