City releases candidates for potential new councilmember

City releases candidates for potential new councilmember

It all comes down to six.

After reviewing 22 applications for the city council, each councilmember nominated a candidate to be interviewed at the next city council Committee of the Whole meeting. Among the applicants were engineers, social workers, librarians, accountants and other community leaders. Many already volunteered and served in Renton.

The nominees are: Angelina Benedetti, James Alberson, Jennifer Davis Hayes, Linda Smith, Maria Teresa Vazquez and Wesley Bergquist.

Each nominee will receive the same interview questions. It is expected that the same night at the later council meeting the councilmembers will vote on one of the interviewed candidates. Council President Ruth Pérez also made it clear that nomination by a councilmember did not mean the applicant is guaranteed their vote during the final decision.

Background on each of the nominees:

  • Angelina Benedetti has worked in community service for over 22 years, and serves on several Renton advisory board and committees. She is also regional manager at King County Libraries.
  • James Alberson is a consultant and chairman of Renton Chamber of Commerce board from 2016 to 2019. He ran in last November’s election for council position three.
  • Jennifer Davis Hayes is a former city of Renton employee and served on several nonprofit boards. She is now works at city of Issaquah.
  • Linda Smith is a pastor and founder of REACH Center of Hope, as well as co-chair of the Renton African American Pastoral Group. Smith also ran in last year’s election for position three, but did not make it to the general election.
  • Maria Teresa Vasquez is a Renton School District English language learner (ELL) teacher and volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul-Centro Rendu. She received the superintendent award for equity in 2018.
  • Wesley Bergquist is a Renton graduate and owns OAC Services, providing project and construction management.

Other applicants, according to the applications from the city clerk’s office, included Bruce McIntyre, Ben Johnson, Ryan Ottele, Marvin Rosete, Amber Saxby, Marija Spasikova, Alma Terrell, Nick Tolley, Kimberly Unti, Kevin Weishaar, Kathleen Booher, Denice Carnahan, Matthew Devine, Wayne Fugate, Max Heller III and Holly Hill.

Several councilmembers remarked at the Jan. 27 meeting how highly qualified all the applicants were and what a difficult decision it was. Pérez said this selection did not mean the other candidates weren’t qualified, rather the nominees were better fit for this particular council.

“This might be the hardest thing I’ve had to do up here,” Councilmember Ryan McIrvin said at the meeting.

Councilmember Kim-Khánh Văn said she would not have only chosen six applicants to interview. She was the final councilmember to nominate an applicant. The policy was voted by councilmembers at the end of 2019, before Văn took office.

The six applicants will be interviewed at the Renton Committee of the Whole at 3:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 3 at Renton City Hall.

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