Dawn Sturwold, the hearing examiner for the City of Bellingham, is retiring at the end of this month. She has been Bellingham’s first and only hearing examiner since the office was created in May, 2000. She started work in the city attorney’s office in 1984.
Update 4:55 pm: The city has informed me their previous information was in error. A contract hearing examiner will start July 1 and serve until a permanent Examiner is hired. The significance of this is there will probably be no rush for a June 23 confirmation by the council, and the process may be more open with more time to make a decision. This is good.
Job applications for her replacement were posted in April and closed in May. Final interviews of candidates will be this Thursday, June 12. This position is one of only two important city positions that requires council approval of the mayor’s appointment. The other is the city attorney position. According to city hall sources, the new appointee is expected to start work on July 1, which means the council will have to approve the mayor’s choice at the June 23 council session.
I am unaware of any news coverage of this important appointment. While it will be a 2 year contract, the person selected will probably serve for many years, perhaps decades. This judicial position is important to our city. I only learned of this today. Anyone know more about this process? Citizens should at least be aware enough to be able to comment at a council meeting before the actual confirmation.
A further question is how much does our council know of the candidates and this process? As the council must approve, have they been involved in the process? Or, as I have heard, is only council president Cathy Lehman involved? I do not think our daily newspaper has reported this.
This appointment is one of the most important of our city government. Should it be a more open public process?