Langley moves to fill vacant city council seat

Help wanted: Langley City Council. Eighteen-month commitment. Fast reader, slow talker. Plenty of night meetings, none catered. Must be able to take flack. Pay, $50 per month. Use your own car.

The search gets under way this weekend for someone to fill Jim Recupero’s vacant seat on the Langley City Council amid one of the more demanding periods in the city’s civic history.

Recupero, 80, a member of the council since 2002, resigned abruptly this past week to spend more time with his family and to pursue other interests.

Recupero’s resignation was effective immediately. His term of office was set to expire at the end of next year.

“It was time to move on,” Recupero said Monday. “There’s so much involved with the job now, I don’t have time to research everything properly.”

“I’ve got a half-acre that’s gone to pot,” he added. “I’ve got to do something about that.”

The remaining four council members, Robert Gilman, Russell Sparkman, Bob Waterman and Rene Neff, will appoint Recupero’s successor to fill the unexpired Position 3 term.

If there’s a tie vote, Mayor Paul Samuelson will decide the outcome.

Samuelson said the position will be officially advertised this Saturday. By state law, the council has 90 days to find a successor, but Samuelson said the city will move quickly to fill the vacancy.

Langley City Council members hold staggered four-year terms. The positions are unpaid, but members receive $50 per month for expenses.

Applications must be submitted to city hall by 5 p.m. Monday, May 10. Council members will interview candidates the following Monday, May 17, and are expected to announce a successor at that evening’s city council meeting, Samuelson said.

Applicants must be residents of the city for at least one year, be at least 18 years old and be registered voters.

“And they have to be willing to work 50 hours a day,” Samuelson chuckled.

The council continues to grapple with a stagnant economy that has put the pinch on city services and created unrest in the city’s business community.

Meanwhile, officials and staff are still wading through an extremely complex update of the zoning and subdivision code that will influence future development in the city.

A nearly three-year moratorium on subdivisions in certain areas of the city was finally lifted earlier this month, and there’s a rising tide of sentiment that city officials should move faster on the subdivision revisions.

Samuelson said that, historically, several candidates have come forward to fill an unexpired term on the council. The last vacancy was in 2008, when Neil Colburn resigned.

Meanwhile, there’s a pile of detailed documents waiting for Recupero’s successor, Samuelson said.

“We’re in a time of a lot of important work,” he said. “We’re looking for somebody who is committed to the future of the city, who understands the complexity of the job and who is ready to spend a fair amount of time.”

“Whoever gets it will have lots of homework to get up to speed,” the mayor added. “There are some very big decisions being made now, with a lot of history behind them.”

Recupero, a retired retail executive with a food market chain in California, has lived in Langley for 17 years. He and his wife Amy have two grown children and two grandchildren.

Recupero still works part-time at Sebo’s Do-It Center in Bayview.

“We’re really grateful for his service over the years,” Samuelson said. “He’s attentive and cooperative, and had a lot of history to communicate. He’s grounded, and very reliable and committed.”

Recupero said that giving up his council seat will allow him to devote more time to personal affairs. He said he may be interested in serving the city again, perhaps as a volunteer board member, but not anytime soon.

“I have plenty of things to take care of,” he said.

In his April 14 resignation letter, Recupero thanked the voters who elected him, and for the opportunity to serve. “It’s been quite a ride,” he wrote.

Offered the chance to talk about the highs and lows of his council service, Recupero politely declined.

“I think I’ve said it all, and will just let it ride,” he said Tuesday. “I don’t want to screw it up.”

For information about the city council vacancy, call 221-4246 or visit

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