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Joan McBride new Kirkland mayor; Penny Sweet deputy mayor
The first Kirkland City Council meeting of 2010 brought new members, a new mayor and a new deputy mayor. Longtime Council member Joan McBride was elected mayor in an unanimous vote of 6-0. McBride was nominated by Council member Dave Asher.
"I am just hugely honored and humbled by the trust that the council has put in me," said McBride during an interview with the Reporter. "We have a lot of hard work ahead of us this year."
Council member Bob Sternoff was absent from the meeting due to a family medical emergency.
The fact that the vote was unanimous is not out of the ordinary for the council.
"We have a long history of trying to have an unanimous vote," said McBride. "We are trying to start off the year by showing that we are a team. It is our way of showing the community that we may have disagreements but we are united."
Asher was the first to congratulate McBride before the council took a five-minute break.
The second vote of the night, for deputy mayor, was also unanimous and a bit unexpected. First-term Council member Penny Sweet was elected to the position.
"I was thrilled," said Sweet. "I am really excited. Given the overwhelming vote (in the general election) it made sense that two of four (of the newly elected council members) would end up serving in a leadership capacity."
Sweet was nominated to the seat by former Redmond Mayor and new Kirkland City Council member Doreen Marchione.
"Anything that Doreen does means a lot to me," said Sweet. "I think that the council is going to really rely on Doreen's experience and wisdom."
The fact that the vote was 6-0 might also come as a surprise to some who remember the campaign two years ago for council position No. 4. The race, between current Council members Jessica Greenway and Sweet, was one of the most contentious and expensive campaigns in city history. The race was decided by just 114 votes. After casting her vote for Sweet, Greenway said it is time to move forward.
"A campaign is a contest and when it is over you have to move on," said Greenway. "That is how politics works. You have to be prepared to work with everyone."
"I am very grateful," said Sweet about Greenway's vote. "Both Jessica and Dave are showing a real willingness to work with us, improve the council and move on in a positive manner."
McBride defended the choice of Sweet despite her lack of council experience.
"It is unusual and I don't think it has ever happened before," said McBride, who has served on the council since January 1998. "But she has been involved for a long time. She has the time to devote to the position and I think it is a great choice."
Sweet's husband Larry Springer is a former Kirkland City Council member and mayor, and currently serves in the Washington State Legislature from the 45 District.
There were no other nominations for either leadership position.
The meeting began with all the new council members, and McBride, who won election in November. Ford of Kirkland CFO Amy Walen was sworn in to serve a four-year term in position 5 and Marchione was sworn in for position 7. Sweet, who owns the Grape Choice wine shop in downtown Kirkland, was also sworn in for position 3, while McBride holds position 1.
During the public comment portion of the meeting numerous community members took the time to wish the new council well and some let the council know that the ethical issues and infighting that dogged the council last term are not acceptable.
"With all absolute respect for Council member Sternoff ... collegiality, respect and attention to detail are three things we are charging this council with,” said John Gilday, publisher of the Eastside Sun. "The people in the trenches take their lead from you."
One of the biggest issues on the council's agenda this term is to pick a new city manager. Current City Manager Dave Ramsay announced last summer that he would be leaving the post this year. A public forum on new city manager will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26 at City Hall. The forum will give Kirkland citizens a chance to voice their opinion on what qualities should be found in the new city manager. The city has hired Bob Murray and Associates to conduct the search for candidates for the position.
Other issues for the council to tackle include a budget shortfall and providing essential services to the North Juanita, Finn Hill and Kingsgate neighborhoods that the council will annex in June 2011.