Above: Clark Gilman, left, greets Doug DeForest after Gilman was chosen Monday night by the Olympia City Council to be appointed to the council. He replaces Cheryl Selby, who won the mayor's seat in November. Gilman will be sworn in at Tuesday night's council meeting and serve out the remainder of Selby's term.
By Janine Gates
Westside Olympia resident Clark Gilman was chosen Monday night out of eight candidates who applied for appointment to the Olympia City Council, Position #4.
The position became vacant when Councilmember Cheryl Selby won her election and was sworn in as mayor.
Gilman will serve for approximately 23 months, until the November 2017 general election results are certified and will be sworn in at Tuesday night’s Olympia City Council meeting.
Gilman is a grantwriting and organizational development consultant for a local company, and a special education paraeducator for North Thurston High School in Lacey.
Prior to that, he worked as a manager for the Harvesting Clean Energy program for Climate Solutions and co-founded a residential carpenters union local in 1996.
“I am a person who can work hard as part of a group and live with the decisions of the group. A career as an elected local leader and a regional staff person for the Carpenters Union offered me a great deal of practical experience in this area….As a regional leader of the Union, I would often represent the organizations’ position on contentious issues to diverse interest groups and use my position to work towards resolution of those difficult issues,” Gilman said in his application to the city.
Above: Eight candidates applied for the appointment to the Olympia city council. Left to right: Dr. Karen Johnson, Paul Masiello, Allen Miller, Marco Rosaire Rossi, Max Brown, Clark Gilman, Chase Gallagher, and Peter Tassoni. The interviews were open to the public, and taped for replay on Thurston Community Television (TCTV).
Councilmembers took turns asking questions of the group of eight, in two groups of four. Candidates had two minutes to answer each question. After the interviews, councilmembers voted for three candidate choices. Although the council unanimously chose Gilman as a choice in its first round, they chose to do a second round, asking the top four vote getters an additional four questions.
In the first round, Gilman received six votes, Johnson received four votes, and Brown and Gallagher each received three votes. In the end, allowed one vote, five councilmembers voted for Gilman. Councilmember Jeannine Roe chose Max Brown.
Jimmy Haun, political director of the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters which covers six western states, came down from Seattle to attend the interviews and lend moral support to Gilman. He expressed full confidence in Gilman’s abilities to be a councilmember for the city.
“Clark has been an advocate for carpenters working in the residential construction market for many years. In most cases, carpenters who are not represented by a union are not aware of their rights and are victims of payroll fraud. Many of these workers are Latino and are not familiar with how overtime works or how much they should be getting paid on prevailing wage projects. Some are misclassified as "independent contractors" by their employers who avoid paying Labor and Industries premiums and payroll taxes. Clark worked to help educate these workers so they were able to collect the wages that they were duly owed. He also help found a residential carpenters local, and a vast majority of their members are Latino,” said Haun.
For the City of Olympia, Gilman is chair of the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, which he said allowed him to have a closer look at the work of the council.
“As chair of the BPAC my focus has been on taking care of the committee members and the process. I have worked hard to make sure that every voice is heard and that our decisions reach consensus as often as possible. With support from Council we have moved forward with modestly funded innovative initiatives that kept the bicycling and walking agenda in action through the leanest of city budgets,” Gilman said in his application.
During the interview, Gilman said he feels blessed to have developed broad constituencies and relationships with shop owners downtown, neighbors on the westside, colleagues he works with, and people he has represented as a union representative.
“…I take very seriously the trustee role of overseeing a municipal corporation. I see that as a responsibility and as a call to look at the best interests of the community, putting aside some of those particular issues and constituencies dear and closest to my heart….
“I generally feel really good and excited about where Olympia is at right now today…I am very proud of the work that the city staff’s been doing…so I don’t have any hesitation in putting my energy toward the agenda the council has right now and trying to push implementation of the good work of the staff,” said Gilman.
Gilman did gently suggest that the council has gradually shifted its attention over the years from overseeing the big policy picture to spending too much time on details about programs that the city implements such as the comprehensive plan and downtown strategies.
When asked by Councilmember Jim Cooper, in a hypothetical scenario, how he would pick one parks related project, have five million dollars to spend, and build community consensus around it, Gilman said that if the purchase of the LBA Woods was already accomplished, he would be responsive to and satisfy the community need for a dog park.
Gilman said he lives near Sunrise Park and was part of a group that had concerns about the dog park in that area. The park inadvertently became a regional magnet for pent-up city-wide off-leash dog park needs and was disruptive to nearby neighbors.
As a result of those concerns, he said he spent about a year working with a parks and recreation subcommittee to try and find another location, and spent days riding around with city staff to look for appropriate land with buffers that would not adversely impact neighbors.
“I think it would be such a different ride if I had that check in my hand,” Gilman said, eliciting laughter from councilmembers and the audience.
Without the benefit of running a recent campaign and hearing first hand from voters what is on their minds, Gilman was asked by Councilmember Bateman what he thought were the top three issues most important to the community members. He responded: the use of the Parks and Pathways fund and lack of land acquisition; safety, particularly since the officer involved shooting of two African American men in May; and the condition of downtown sidewalks.
When asked by Councilmember Jeannine Roe who he would choose to be the next councilmember if the councilmembers didn’t choose him, Gilman said Dr. Karen Johnson, saying that she was eloquent, gracious, and would be an asset in the process of group dynamics. In answer to the same question, three other candidates also mentioned Johnson, who received the most votes of confidence by interviewees.
Mayor Cheryl Selby and councilmembers thanked all the candidates for their knowledge, ideas, and passion, and welcomed them all to stay involved in city issues. The meeting was Cheryl Selby’s first as mayor, and Jessica Bateman’s first as a councilmember.
Above: Jimmy Haun, political director for the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, greets Dr. Karen Johnson, during a break Monday night of the interviews for Olympia city council. Johnson received four votes of confidence from other applicants when asked who they would chose for the seat, other than themselves.