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Interim planning director hired

The city will have an interim planning director on the job Monday.

The Bainbridge Island City Council this week unanimously approved a contract with the Prothman Company of Seattle, an executive search firm, to provide the services of Larry Frazier of Tacoma for up to six months.

The contract is not to exceed $60,000. The arrangement makes Frazier a temporary employee, leaving the city free to terminate his employ without obligation as soon as a permanent director is found.

“I know the employees are anxious to have somebody in that office, and somebody with experience they can go to,” Mayor Darlene Kordonowy said.

Frazier was selected after interviews with four candidates. He will fill in for longtime planning chief Stephanie Warren, who stepped down last month.

Frazier most recently served as planning director for Cowlitz County, in south-central Washington, a job he held for nine years. Previously, he served as planning director for Pierce County, Manatee County, Fla., and Washington County, Ore.

The council confirmed the appointment after a special meeting with Kordonowy and Administrator Lynn Nordby Wednesday afternoon.

In a memorandum to council members, Kordonowy had argued that an interim director would bring needed guidance to the planning staff during the search for a permanent replacement.

Nordby added that Frazier would also be a “fresh set of eyes” who could identify problems within the department and recommend remedies while a permanent director is sought.

Councilwoman Debbie Vancil, who had questioned the need for an interim director, expressed concern that someone might try to make “wholesale changes” in the department, beyond the charge of a temporary department head.

But Councilman Bill Knobloch countered that council was “getting bogged down in a whirlpool of concern,” and urged quick action. Any changes in planning procedure or staffing would have to be approved by the mayor and city administrator, he noted.

Agreed Councilwoman Debbie Vann, “They’re not going to be doing things we wouldn’t want them to.”

Next up: the administration will put out a request for proposals from “headhunter” firms to identify candidates for the permanent director, and solicit comment on the range of skills and experience desired.

Several council members expressed hope for an expedited search process, and Knobloch predicted that it would in fact go quickly. “I’m sure there’s going to be a line outside City Hall,” he said.

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