Kent City Council picks seven finalists for vacant council position

The Kent City Council cut a list of 38 applicants on Tuesday night to seven finalists to replace Ken Sharp on the council.

The finalists are Jed Aldridge, Christine Budell, Brenda Fincher, Barbara Phillips, Debbie Raplee, Wade Schwartz and Sarah Veele.

"It was a challenge," Council President Dana Ralph said during a phone interview. "We had some really good applicants."

Council members met in executive session to discuss the applicants. The council returned to an open public meeting and each of the six members voted for their top seven choices. Any applicant with three or more votes became a finalist.

The council will pick a replacement for Sharp at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25 when each finalist will be interviewed. Sharp resigned in January after only two weeks into his four-year term because of pending first-degree theft charges for allegedly stealing nearly $300,000 from his 93-year-old mother's bank account.

Former council members as well as several people who have run for the council were among the applicants.

Those who didn't make the final list included Tim Clark, who served 16 years on the council and lost to incumbent Suzette Cooke in the mayor's race last fall, and Bailey Stober, who lost to Sharp in the November election.

"We have a variety of former council members, former candidates and former employees," Ralph said. "I'm very impressed we ended up with 38 applicants. It's encouraging to see that many people want to be involved."

Whoever is appointed to the position will begin their term with the appointment and end it when the November 2015 election is certified. The person appointed is eligible to run for the position in 2015. The part-time position pays $13,752 per year.

The seven finalists:

• Jed Aldridge: former city of Kent assistant fire chief

• Christine (Tina) Budell: president of North Park Neighborhood Council

• Brenda Fincher: administrative assistant at Holy Spirit Catholic Church; treasurer of Kent Black Action Commission

• Barbara Phillips: vice chair city Land Use and Planning Board; lost in council race August primary to Ken Sharp and Bailey Stober

• Debbie Raplee: staff analyst at Boeing; served eight years on city council before losing in 2011 election to Bill Boyce

• Wade Schwartz: owns Blanc-n-Schwartz Salon in downtown Kent; lost in council race in November to Jim Berrios

• Sarah Veele: senior research associate at Washington State Center for Court Research


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