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Popular planner to rejoin city staff in Langley

Larry Cort - Brian Kelly
Larry Cort
— image credit: Brian Kelly

Incoming mayor announces new additions to team

Former city planner Larry Cort will return to Langley City Hall in an expanded role, Mayor Paul Samuelson announced this week.

Cort stepped down last fall to take a job as a senior planner in Maple Valley. But Samuelson said the popular planner will fill the just-created position of community planning director for Langley.

Cort was expected to start his new job in his old digs on Jan. 4.

“I think it’s a huge, huge benefit to us to have him come back,” Samuelson said. “I’m overwhelmed with excitement that he’s here.”

Samuelson also announced this week that he would hire Kathleen Landel, his former campaign manager, to work part time as a special assistant to the mayor. Landel is well-known to many for her work on the board of the nonprofit Whidbey Camano Land Trust.

At its meeting on Wednesday, the council voted to confirm the appointment of Cort to his new position.

The new hires have also gotten early nods of approval from others outside city hall.

“I was very surprised and very delighted. I think it was a master stroke to get Larry Cort back,” said former mayor Neil Colburn.

“Larry Cort is a world-class planner. He’s a combination of small town and urbane. I just absolutely applaud the move.”

“Everything I know about Kathleen is good,” Colburn added.

Though Cort previously worked for Langley for less than a year, he was involved in many high-profile projects, including the rewrite of the city’s growth plan, the launch of Langley’s new historical preservation program, and the ongoing debate over shoreline development.

“He has a really strong relationship with the staff and he also has a strong relationship with the community,” Samuelson said.

Cort is well-versed on Whidbey Island’s most pressing land-use issues. Beyond his time in Langley, he previously worked as a planner for the city of Coupeville and also for Oak Harbor.

Samuelson, who took over as mayor last week, said Landel will help with community relations and grant writing.

She will also help coordinate the city’s citizen advisory boards and commissions, and work with Samuelson and other city officials on a long-range, four-year plan that will set priorities for city government.

Samuelson said Landel will work on a contract basis for 20 hours a week. A one-year contract is expected to be presented to the council at its next meeting.

Cort will earn $68,000 in his new position. His annual salary during his previous time with the city was $63,000.

Brian Kelly can be reached at 221-5300 or bkelly@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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