Pacific City Council vacancy attracts five candidates

An open seat on Pacific’s City Council has kicked up a lot of interest.

Five candidates who hope to complete the remainder of the Position 7 term that expires Dec. 31 made short presentations and answered questions from the council on Monday night.

Justin Newlun created the vacancy in January when he announced that he would be moving out of Pacific. His final meeting was Monday. The council had selected Newlun Jan. 25, 2016 to succeed Tren Walker, who also resigned because he would be moving.

Mayor Leanne Guier said the Council selects Newlun’s replacement at next Monday’s council meeting.

Here is an overview of the candidates:

Debbie Aubrey: A resident of Pacific for the last four years, Aubrey said she could bring a fresh perspective to the City Council.

“I’m interested in being invested more in my city,” Aubrey said. “I haven’t been around the city for a long time.”

Aubrey said she has worked as a paralegal for more than 15 years. As part of her work, she said, she facilitates visits between children and parents.

Howard Erickson: The mayor of Pacific from 1976-84 and 2000-04, Erickson said he would bring the most substantial résumé among the candidates.

“If you’re hiring someone, normally the first thing you ask about is experience,” he said. “I have the experience.”

Erickson said his background in politics and specifically in Pacific, where he has lived for about 50 years, gives him a unique perspective.

“I think I have the experience to see things that others don’t see,” he said. “I think I can see problems growing in the City.”

One example of that, Erickson said, is tree limbs – and debris – overhanging or scattered about areas of Pacific after the Sunday and Monday snowstorm. If not addressed, he said, those issue create a liability for the City.

Samantha Niemi: A stay-at-home mom, Niemi said her passion for networking within the community prompted her to apply.

“I’ve got some time on my hands to dedicate to some amazing possibilities,” said Niemi, who is married and has a 7-year-old son. “It really means a lot to me to be involved in my community. I want my son to be raised in a strong community.”

Jonathan Poff: As someone who organized outreach in a previous position and now works in business development at Amazon, Poff said he would be a good fit to inherit some of Newlun’s work, including issues specific to the human services and technology committees.

Some on the council questioned whether Poff, who is married with three children, has time for the position. But he noted that he usually is home from work by 4:45 p.m.

“I don’t have any concern with that at all,” Poff said. “When I commit to something, I’m going to be there.”

If he is selected, Poff said, he would focus on being a steward of taxpayer dollars to ensure that, “we’re spending where it should be spent.”

Don Thomson: An Air Force veteran, Thomson has lived in Pacific since 1990. He previously ran for council position No. 6 in November 2015. Dave Storaasli won that seat.

Thomson, who is retired, said that if were to be appointed to the council, he would continue to push for some of his major campaign priorities, such as investing more into programs for youth and seniors and making improvements to infrastructure.