The Ketchikan City Council has a new member following Monday’s special meeting. In a 4-2 vote, the elected members appointed Russell Wodehouse to fill the Council’s seventh seat, recently vacated by Sam Bergeron.
Wodehouse grew up in Ketchikan and knows a lot of people here. He left town for a while, but maintained his local contacts. Now he’s moved back, and wants to get involved.
“I have friends and colleagues all over town and from every walk of life. I’m not here to represent any group or niche,” he said. “I hope if appointed to offer a voice of common sense, to ask tough questions and to weigh without any predisposition the myriad of difficulties that face this body, such as the budget shortfall, the challenges with infrastructure… power production and maintenance.”
Wodehouse said he wants to be part of overcoming those issues and planning Ketchikan’s future.
Wodehouse works at Salmon Etc., a downtown business that sells and ships seafood, particularly during the summertime. He also is a musician and graphic artist.
When asked by Council Member Bob Sivertsen about ideas for resolving fiscal challenges, Wodehouse suggested a balanced approach involving both budget cuts and revenue increases. He said a seasonal sales tax is one possibility.
Sivertsen also asked for Wodehouse’s interpretation of needs versus wants.
“Needs are things that we can’t live without; things we’re obligated to that we’ve already committed to,” Wodehouse answered. “Wants are things that would be nice if we could do this, or provide this. I think those are some of the challenges facing us right now, is looking at what wants are and distinguishing what those are, and comparing them to the needs and making some tough choices.”
Wodehouse was one of five people who applied for the job. The other candidates were former Council Member Dick Coose, who lost his bid for re-election in October; Ty Rettke, who works for the city and would have had to resign that job if selected; Mickey Robbins, who operates a bed-and-breakfast and a fishing charter business; and Jacquie Meck, who owns a local business and is involved in numerous civic organizations.
Before the candidates were interviewed by the Council, three members of the public addressed the topic. All spoke in favor of Coose.
Wodehouse was the last of the candidates to be questioned by the Council, and when he was done, Council Member Marty West quickly nominated him for the position.
“I’ve known Russell for a long time. I think he’s fair and he’ll do the work,” she said. “He’ll give everybody a fair shake. He’s smart, he listens. I don’t think he makes his mind up before he does the research on an issue.”
Council Member Matt Olsen, who seconded the motion, concurred. Also speaking in favor of Wodehouse was newly elected Council Member Judy Zenge.
The nomination passed 4-2 with Sivertsen and Council Member DeAnn Karlson voting no. City Clerk Katy Suiter immediately administered the oath of office.
After a brief break, Wodehouse took his seat for the rest of the special meeting, which was part of the Council’s ongoing 2014 budget review.
The Ketchikan City Council meets again in special session on Wednesday and Thursday, both starting at 7 p.m., and both focusing on the budget.