The Black Diamond City Council will soon bring yet another resident into the fold.
With the unexpected departure of former Councilman Patrick Nelson on Aug. 6, the city quickly put out the call that a seventh member on council was needed.
Five people applied (though only four were interviewed), and after a lengthy Q&A session during the Sept. 17 council meeting, a final decision will be reached during the Oct. 1 gathering.
Applying for Council Position No. 6 are Bernie O’Donnell, Benjamin Singleton, Tony Moss, Briana Durham, and Chad Hoffman.
O’Donnell, who has lived in Black Diamond for more than 13 years, has 30 years of experience in public and private sector design and construction projects, climbing the ladder from employee to executive. He currently is owner and president of the Renton-based Rock Project Management Services.
Outside of work, O’Donnell is a former president of Rebuilding Together South Sound, a former volunteer with The Millionair Club, and currently serves on the National Small Business Association Leadership Council, the Workforce Advisory Board, and the CTE Advisory Board for the Renton School District.
Singleton is a new resident to the area, having been one of the first 50 families to move into the Ten Trails housing development. Until 2019, he was a senior account executive with Allstream.
He also serves as the media director for his church, works with the nonprofit Sisters Against Lupus, and enjoys photography (he’s even worked with Snoop Dogg, he said in his interview with the council).
Moss has been a Black Diamond resident since 2011, has 21 years of Navy experience, and until recently was a logistics and material planning manager with Conrad Manufacturing.
He’s a familiar face around the city, as he plays the iconic role of Sebastian Pagano during the Black Diamond Miner’s Day skits. He also serves as the director of the Black Diamond Labor Days Committee and is the leading officer of the local Masons in Diamond Lodge No. 83.
Like Singleton, Durham is also a Ten Trails resident and is relatively new to the city. She serves as the director of special programs with the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee, helping high school- and college-aged students earn school credit through apprenticeships.
Beyond her day job, Durham is a former CTE Advisor for the Enumclaw School District, was a mentor program supervisor with the IF Project, and is currently the director of the Ten Trails Outdoor Education Program with her wife.
Finally comes Hoffman, who did not appear for his interview during the meeting. He is a senior security systems delivery manager with LMC Consulting. He’s lived in Washington since 2008, but has only recently found his way to Black Diamond, and as such, did not note any volunteer experience in the area in his application.
Each candidate was asked a handful of various questions, ranging from what volunteer or service work they’ve done in their life or in Black Diamond to what they would do with a million dollar grant.
One question stood out, though, as it gave a glimpse into how each candidate would vote on a likely upcoming issue — whether or not the city should hire a city administrator to help Mayor Carol Benson with her executive duties.
At the moment, Benson is both the mayor and city administrator, and the positions have been one and the same since the resignation of former City Administrator Christy Todd during the Mayor Dave Gordon administration in May 2014.
It seemed the majority of candidates approved of bringing on a city administrator.
“I think the mayor has probably got her plate full, especially as the city grows,” said O’Donnell. “I think that the public services need to be aligned with the growth of the city, and I think it would be wonderful to give the mayor some support there, so she’s not having to wear two hats.”
“I think a second set of eyes are not a bad thing,” Singleton commented. “I think having somebody to hold people to task is a good thing. I think that someone driving projects is a fantastic thing… an administrator really helps to drive that, be the bad guy, unfortunately, sometimes, but the end result, if your focus is on doing the right things, it’s a very positive experience.”
“The mayor is doing an awesome job, but I also think as we grow, the workload is going to grow,” Durham answered. “I think having a city administrator may take some pressure off of… a demanding schedule and balancing all of those things. I know budget season is coming up, so I would have to look at the numbers and staffing — I understand all those things would need to be considered — but having a city administrator may be able to push those agenda items along a little bit smoother and free up some time.”
The only dissenting voice was Moss’.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “I believe in a strong mayor. I believe in the council’s decisions. I don’t think we can afford a city administrator. I just believe in a strong mayor system.”