Black Diamond Police Chief Jamey Kiblinger swore in new Councilman Steven Paige during the Sept. 19 council meeting. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Black Diamond Police Chief Jamey Kiblinger swore in new Councilman Steven Paige during the Sept. 19 council meeting. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Black Diamond appoints two new council members

The race for Council Position No. 5 between incumbent Chris Wisnoski and Challenger Kristiana de Leon is still going.

Black Diamond has officially joined its neighboring cities in having a seven-member council.

During the Sept. 19 City Council meeting, new council members Patrick Nelson and Steven Paige were appointed to Position No. 6 and Position No. 7 respectively after a short interview period and two executive sessions.

The call to expand the city council came in early August, with Councilwoman Janie Edelman citing the city’s growth as the main reason.

“With all of the building that’s going on, with all the houses that are built and ready to be sold, the timing is right,” she said during the Aug. 1 meeting, referencing the Ten Trails housing development, which expects to bring in around 4,800 homes at full buildout in the next two decades. “There’s no point in waiting to increase the size.”

Some locals voiced wanted to vote for their new members, rather than having them chosen by the current council, but state law requires new council members to be appointed, rather than elected, when a council expands.

Residents had until Sept. 3 to turn in applications; only two were submitted.

Nelson was the first to be interviewed, and answered questions like why he decided to put himself forward as a contender for the new seats, what is his understanding about the council’s role in the city and community, what are the issues he wants to tackle while on the council, how he will incorporate citizen’s opinions into his decision making, and more.

The council then left the room for a 15 minute executive session, and on their return, unanimously voted Nelson onto the council.

Paige’s interview was next, and after he answered the same questions posed to Nelson, the council — including its new member — had a five-minute executive session before coming back and unanimously confirmed Paige.

After both were sworn in by Black Diamond Police Chief Kiblinger, the council got down to business: they officially accepted the Roberts Drive improvement project, which included constructing a pedestrian bridge over Rock Creek; authorized a grant agreement with the state Department of Ecology and accept a grant to improve their stormwater system; and approved an ordinance amending the city’s Shoreline Management Plan.

But before all that happened, a couple of Black Diamond residents, and one visitor, voiced their disapproval at the council’s appointment process, since the interview and appointments all happened before the public comment period, meaning residents couldn’t give their opinion of the council candidates until after they were sworn in.

“These people are holding seats that would normally be elected by the whole city, and you appointed them without any opportunity for public comment,” said Kristin Bryant, a Bellevue resident but a staple at Black Diamond council meetings, since she grew up in the city. “I hope that you as new council members, and you as existing council members, will change your council rules and re-order the simple placement of appointments to come after public comment.”

POS. 5 RACE STILL RUNNING

Notably absent from the list of council contenders, but in attendance at the meeting, was Kristiana de Leon, who is challenging Councilman Chris Wisnoski’s seat on the council. It’s the only contested city seat in the upcoming November election, as Councilwoman Tamie Boxx-Deady is running unopposed this year for Pos. 1 and Hunter Cooper is stepping up for the Pos. 3 seat when Councilwoman Janie Edelman steps down after the election.

“I filed for Position 5, and I have every determination to win that,” she said in a short interview. “I decided to run for office instead of trying to get appointed, because I believe the citizens of Black Diamond are best represented by a candidate who takes the time to talk one-on-one with residents to learn about their concerns.”

Wisnoski was appointed to the council in March 2018 after a former council member was recalled, and was one of four residents who applied for the position.

Councilman Patrick Nelson answering questions from the Black Diamond City Council before they left the room for an executive session and returning to unanimously confirm his appointment to the council. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Councilman Patrick Nelson answering questions from the Black Diamond City Council before they left the room for an executive session and returning to unanimously confirm his appointment to the council. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

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