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Council picks McCarthy to lead Langley

By BEN WATANABE
South Whidbey Record Sports, Langley, South Whidbey Fire/EMS
February 23, 2013 · Updated 6:54 PM
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Candidates to be Langley’s appointed interim mayor await interview questions at the city council meeting Tuesday. From left are Thomas Gill, Bruce Allen, Hal Seligson, Edwin Anderson and Fred McCarthy, who was approved in a 2-1 vote. / Ben Watanabe / The Record

Meeting staff and city council members and learning policies dominated Fred McCarthy’s first few days as mayor of Langley.

South Whidbey’s only incorporated city was without its top administrator for almost two months.

Langley City Council ended that period Tuesday when it appointed McCarthy as interim mayor.

“I was surprised by the concept that Fred said; that leading the city was a different skill set than those honed by being on the council,” said Councilman Jim Sundberg.

Reduced in its rank because two council members applied for the job, McCarthy was appointed by a 2-1 vote. Council members Rene Neff and Sundberg selected McCarthy, the retired superintendent for the South Whidbey School District.

Councilman Doug Allderdice voted for Hal Seligson, who served as the acting mayor since Larry Kwarsick was forced to resign in January. Bruce Allen was the other city council member who vied for the mayor’s office.

“My vote was very selfish because I wanted to keep the two of you on this team,” Neff said of Allen and Seligson.

McCarthy presided over the council meeting after he was sworn in by City Clerk Debbie Mahler. Since then, his schedule was stacked with meetings with city department heads, staff and council members.

“I’m really enjoying this new adventure,” McCarthy said. “I’m very hopeful for the future and the things we can do working together.”

Other than learning the job of mayor and meetings McCarthy plans to review city projects.

Already in the works is the First Street waterline replacement, which he said was well led by Challis Stringer, the public works director.

Langley’s public works and planning project for Second Street is another item on McCarthy’s agenda. He did not share any opinions on changes to the major overhaul of Second Street, other than saying he would seek city staff input.

Working with the Port of South Whidbey for its improved Langley marina was a priority for McCarthy. While Langley was without a mayor, the height of lighting on the marina was in contention. But McCarthy said the city and port district are working together to solve the issue.

“I’m impressed with the work that’s going on,” McCarthy said. “I’m particularly impressed with the work between the port and the city.”

McCarthy was selected as mayor from a field of five applicants. Edwin Anderson and Thomas Gill, in addition to Allen and Seligson, were passed over by the city council.

Looking to utilize some of the other candidates’ talents, McCarthy highlighted suggestions by Gill for technology improvements to City Hall as an idea he wants to incorporate into his administration.

“The next day when I came into work, Thomas was already there working on computers for the city,” McCarthy said of Gill.

Ensuring the formation of an ethics commission (started by Seligson) was another idea borrowed by McCarthy. The commission, which the mayor said will be selected by March, will create a code of ethics for the city council and city staff.

More meetings and readings are up for Langley’s mayor next week.

Once he settles into his job, McCarthy said he will publish his office hours.

The office will be McCarthy’s until the election in November.

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