Washougal Council delays appointment of planning commissioner

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The appointment of a new Washougal Planning Commissioner was anything but routine during a recent City Council meeting.

Council member Jon Russell made a motion on Nov. 15 that the appointment of Mike Briggs be tabled.

Russell said Briggs had made “disparaging remarks” toward the mayor, City Council and developers in local blogs and media.

“There have been personal attacks,” Russell said.

Councilman Dave Shoemaker said planning commissioners have varying opinions. He said he enjoyed talking with Larry Wagoner when they served on the planning commission.

“Those were valuable, civil discussions,” Shoemaker said.

However, he would not be able to support Briggs’ appointment to the Planning Commission due to “personal attacks.”

Councilman Rod Morris spoke in favor of talking about concerns during the next council workshop.

“This should be out in the open Monday, and have Briggs hear it,” Morris said.

Councilwoman Molly Coston voted for the tabling of the recommendation, “to ensure the conversation is among all council members.”

“An energetic discourse is essential for the democratic process,” she said. “I favor Briggs’ appointment, but I’m willing to hear concerns.”

Councilman Paul Greenlee, also a former planning commissioner, described the commission as a “debating society” that makes recommendations to the City Council.

Russell’s motion to table the appointment was seconded by Michael Delavar and approved six to one – with Greenlee casting the dissenting vote.

Greenlee had served on the panel that interviewed Briggs and Charlie Dawson. The panel also included Planning Commissioner Larry White and Planning Manager Mitch Kneipp.

“The interview panel unanimously recommended Briggs,” Greenlee said by phone last night. “I felt like I pretty much had to side with the panel. I felt like I needed to support that decision.”

Briggs moved from Seattle to Washougal three years ago. He grew up in Hillsboro, Ore. Briggs is a former IRS tax auditor and federal Veterans Administration adjudicator with experience in construction and contracting.

Dawson has served as a volunteer firefighter for more than 20 years. She is a battalion chief with the Washougal Fire Department. Dawson is also a former administrator, trainer and department supervisor at Ferguson Industrial Plastics.

The Planning Commission vacancy was created when Craig Cancilla resigned, due to work commitments. His remaining term expires May 5, 2015.

The City Council workshop will be held Monday, at 5:30 p.m., in the council chambers at City Hall, 1701 “C” St. For more information, call 835-8501.