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Kent City Council appoints Fincher to replace Sharp
Brenda Fincher's years of community involvement helped persuade the Kent City Council to pick her to fill the vacant council seat.
The council appointed Fincher on Tuesday night with a 6-0 vote to replace Ken Sharp, who resigned in January after just two weeks into his four-year term because of pending first-degree theft charges.
The council interviewed seven finalists before going into executive session for about 45 minutes to discuss the candidates. The council reopened the public meeting and voted for Fincher, who then took her oath of office. She will participate in her first council meeting on Tuesday, March 4.
"We had seven really qualified candidates and they all brought something just a little bit different to the table and that's what most of our discussion centered around," Council President Dana Ralph said. "Brenda has a lot of solid connections with the community. She has a history of involvement and a history of showing an ability to reach out to our diverse communities and an engagement with the community that is very longstanding."
Fincher has lived in Kent for 25 years. She is an administrative assistant at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, which is across the street from City Hall. She is a former president of the Kent Youth and Family Services board, a member of the Kent Black Action Commission, past president of the Kent-Meridian High School PTA and led development of the Kent women's homeless shelter.
Fincher didn't know what to expect when the council prepared to announce its decision. The other finalists were Jed Aldridge, Tina Budell, Barbara Phillips, Debbie Raplee, Wade Schwartz and Sarah Veele. Thirty-eight people applied for the position.
"Shock," Fincher said about her reaction when she heard her name selected. "It was one of those am I dreaming moments. I'm just elated."
A West Hill resident, Fincher can't wait to get started on the part-time job.
"I have the chance to touch the widest number of people," Fincher said. "This city with the diversity issues, it's been changing. The color of Kent has changed. I want to make sure everybody has a place where they can come to talk to people and that we all can do the best we can for everybody in Kent. This city belongs to the people. I now work for the people of Kent and I serve the people of Kent. It's wonderful."
Fincher, who is divorced with two grown children who attended Kent schools and now has a grandson in the Kent School District, said the position gives her a chance to be involved and make a difference in a city she fell in love with.
"It's like a clam shell opening up," Fincher said. "This is a great city. I have loved Kent. When I first moved here I said I'd be here three years if I didn't like it and five years if I did like it. That was 25 years ago."
Fincher will serve in an appointed role until the November 2015 election is certified. She is eligible to run for the position in 2015.
The council asked Fincher during her interview about her priorities as a council member.
"My top priority is making sure the families in Kent strive, have good jobs and that we have a strong place to recreate and shop and make Kent a place they want to be," she said.