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Shaughnessy is I-COM's pick for interim director
"Brian Dodds, one of the dispatchers at the Island County Communications Center (I-COM), monitors police, fire, and ambulance activities at his work station.Matt Johnson / staff photoTwo weeks after the founding director of Island County's 911 system died from a sudden illness, the board of directors of the Island County Communications Center (I-COM) appointed the man who hired her as the agency's new interim director.In a unanimous vote Monday afternoon, the board handed I-COM's reins to former Island County Commissioner Tom Shaughnessy, who will take over the duties performed by former director Kathy McClymont since the 911 system went operational in 1997.Shaughnessy, who is the last of I-COM's original board members and who held the position of I-COM commissioner up until his appointment Monday, said he takes his new job with mixed emotions. To move into the director's job, he first had to give up his position as director of the Island County Economic Development Council, a position he has held since being voted out of his county commissioner's seat in 1998. In making the move, he gives up a permanent job for one that may only last six months. The I-COM board also voted Monday to begin a nationwide search for candidates to fill the director's position should Shaughnessy prove not to be the best candidate for the job.Shaughnessy said he does not see the move as professionally risky.My heart and soul has been with this (agency) since day one, he said.The appointment comes two days after fire district commissioners from South, Central, and North Whidbey fire protection districts met to express their reservations about appointing Shaughnessy I-COM director instead of having a hiring process with a number of qualified candidates. At the workshop meeting, which was held Saturday at Coupeville's Tyee Restaurant, the majority of commissioners from FD 2, FD 3 and Central Whidbey said they were not comfortable with a simple appointment. Central Whidbey Commissioner Tom Smith said the I-COM board should have undergone a hiring process for the good of the taxpayers.If the board doesn't do this, it will come under severe criticism, he said.None of the fire commissioners expressed any direct criticism of Shaughnessy, who submitted his resume to the I-COM board last week as a candidate for the director's position. But, said FD 3 Commissioner Mike Helland, Shaughnessy should have to compete against other qualified candidates if he wants the job.If Tom's the most qualified candidate, the process should rise him to the top, he said.The fire commissioners seemed to get at least part of what they wanted Monday. Ken Buehn, a FD 2 commissioner and the fire districts' representative on the seven-member I-COM board, voted in favor of naming Shaughnessy interim director and for the coinciding hiring search. That followed his promise Saturday when he told the fire commissioners that he would abstain from any vote to appoint Shaughnessy as I-COM's permanent director.Shaughnessy did have considerable support from I-COM board members and I-COM employees. During an executive session at Monday's board meeting, the board called I-COM employees to give their opinions on how the agency should fill the director's position. After the meeting came back into public session and the board concluded its vote, the board's interim chairman, Island County Sheriff Mike Hawley, said he would be happy to see Shaughnessy move into the director's job full time.In Tom, we already have a good candidate, Hawley said. As sheriff, I have the greatest confidence he'll do a great job.Shaughnessy starts work at I-COM next Monday. He told members of the Economic Development Council board Tuesday that he is resigning his position with that agency. His new position pays $64,000 a year, plus benefits. Prior to his work with the EDC, Shaughnessy served one term as an Island County commissioner and worked as a regional manager for McGinnis Lumber Company. He has served 15 years as a commissioner of the Camano Island Fire and Rescue District 1. "