Past council comes back to fill in vacant seat

Rich Zwicker will briefly return to city council this fall, filling councilmember Carol Ann Witschi’s vacant seat until a new official is elected in November.

After discussion at the Aug. 5 Committee of the Whole meeting, Renton city councilmembers decided to fill Witschi’s position with a former councilmember, until the election is certified in November.

Council President Don Persson said this is an unusual circumstance, and that they don’t want to train an appointed councilmember and only have them there for a couple months. They also want to retain seven councilmembers so they can make sure they have enough representatives at the committee meetings, Persson said. Witschi was the chair of the Community Services Committee.

At the committee meeting, city attorney Shane Moloney said the council cannot appoint Zwicker until Witschi’s official resignation date, Sept. 1, because she can technically revoke her resignation up until then. Witschi is moving with her family to North Carolina. The council plans to appoint Zwicker on Sept. 9, Persson said.

This move does not change the council appointment policy, Persson said. Councilmembers at the meeting discussed why it’s appropriate to do this, given the timing. Zwicker cannot run for the council position, as it’s past the filing deadline.

Zwicker was a councilmember from 2008 to 2013, and council president in 2012. He’s a lifelong Renton resident, and was on the Renton Technical College board of trustees.

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