Langley council picks Emerson to join its ranks

Dominique Emerson answers a question about her experiences and qualifications during the Langley City Council meeting Tuesday

Dominique Emerson became Langley’s newest city councilwoman on Tuesday.

Emerson, a longtime city resident and business owner, was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Robin Black earlier this month in a 3-1 vote during the council’s regular meeting. She was nominated by Councilwoman Rene Neff, got a second from Councilman Bruce Allen and final support from Councilwoman Ursula Shoudy, who was elected to her first term in November.

Councilman Thomas Gill was the only one who didn’t vote for Emerson, instead casting his supporting for Aaron Simpson. He and Frank Rose were the other two people who applied for the vacancy.

“This was gut wrenching,” Neff said to the candidates and small crowd of about a dozen after the vote.

“I almost thought about resigning myself so two of you could join,” she added.

All three candidates — Emerson, Rose and Simpson — were well known to the council. Emerson has served on the planning board since 2012. Rose has led the Langley Arts Commission since its inception in 2014. And Simpson served on the planning board until resigning for work commitments last year.

The selection process was largely open to the public, with council members interviewing the candidates in open session. Each were asked 10 questions about their backgrounds, temperaments, thoughts on the council’s role in the city, and visions for the next 10 to 20 years.

Emerson spent most of her professional career in the computer engineering industry, having run a consulting company out of Langley between 1989 and 2000. She then turned her attention to landscaping as the owner of Langley-based Custom Landscape Solutions.

Her experiences in Langley shaped her vision for the city for the next 10 and 20 years; she wants to focus on limited growth within city limits and improving quality of life for residents. One of her main ideas was to make it a more pedestrian-friendly city where families want to settle for their home and place of work to “get out of our cars more.”

Related to that vision, Emerson said affordable housing, business growth and utilities expansion in city limits were some of the most pressing long-range issues for Langley.

“Really start to focus on getting the sewer, stormwater services to especially the Decker/Furman area,” she said.

She joined the city’s shoreline advisory committee to help draft the shoreline master program which was approved in 2013. Emerson was appointed to the planning board in 2012, which has worked diligently this past year to update the city’s comprehensive plan.

“I’m a hard worker,” Emerson said. “I get on a board or committee and I’m in for life.”

Langley Mayor Tim Callison, who is also new to office since his election this past November, said one condition of her council appointment is that she must resign from the planning board.

The council and Callison met for a 30-minute executive session to discuss the three candidates who applied to serve in the recently vacated position. After which the council voted in Emerson, who joined the other four members at the table.

The position to which she was appointed will last until 2017, at which point she will have to seek election to fill out the four-year term. Black previously held the position, but resigned as part of a campaign promise that if her husband, Callison, was elected mayor she would step down to alleviate voiced concerns about a conflict of interest.