Langley is under new management with a new mayor, a new councilwoman and soon enough a new council member.
The city rang in 2016 with the swearing in of Tim Callison as mayor and Ursula Shoudy as a councilwoman. The council also swore in Councilman Bruce Allen to a second term and Robin Black to her first full term.
Black promptly resigned from her position, following up on a campaign promise that if Callison, her husband, was elected she would resign to avoid any perceived or real conflicts of interest. There are no state rules barring members of a family from serving in different elected positions within the same government.
“It’s with big regret that we accept it,” Allen said of Black’s resignation.
Callison’s first meeting drew the largest crowd to city hall in months, if not years. There was standing room only, with about 50 people packing the seats and filling in the corners of Langley City Hall’s council chambers.
The new mayor made a slight gaffe by skipping over an item on the agenda. That mistake was quickly rectified when Callison called for the recognition section of the meeting. Calling up the former mayor, Fred McCarthy, Callison allowed his predecessor to present past Langley Chamber of Commerce President Nancy Rowan with a mayor’s excellence award. The award program was an initiative of McCarthy’s, and recognized people who made “significant contributions” to Langley through government, labor, commerce or volunteer efforts. Everything from police bravery apprehending a serial burglar to the beautification of city gardens was honored under McCarthy.
Callison also received his first test as the leader of city council meetings. Introducing the public comment portion, he read through the rules about allowing five minutes per speaker, maintaining civility and that the public should not expect a response from city leaders then and there, as it was a time reserved for the city to receive comment and not necessarily respond.
Socorro Rodriguez said she represented a new group, Langley Association of Downtown Neighbors, that wanted to be included in city discussions related to the commercial building that formerly operated as Mo’s Pub.
“We’re here, we want to be included in the discussion,” she said.
“We have lots of positive ideas of how to move forward,” she added.
Despite the rules just voiced, Councilman Allen asked if the building’s new owners were present. Blushing, the new owner raised her hand and identified herself as Susan Morgan, and said she and her husband, Dan Morgan, had purchased the building. That prompted brief applause and set off a lot of chatter in the council chambers.
Utilizing the gavel for the second time that meeting, Callison rapped it onto the table to call order and remind Allen to not respond or speak out of turn.
His reminder came back to sting him only minutes later. A resident thanked the city’s public works department for helping clear a downed tree from the road. Callison, speaking out of turn, said he enjoyed watching the progress made on the rest of the tree and was sad to see the stump finally gone. Sharen Heath, a resident, jokingly reminded the mayor to not respond during public comment, drawing a round of laughter from the gathered crowd.
The city has plenty of work ahead of its elected leaders and staff. First is the appointment of a city council member. Three applicants emerged in December: Frank Rose, chairman of the Langley Arts Commission; Dominique Emerson, a Planning Advisory Board member; and Aaron Simpson, a former Planning Advisory Board member.
Interviews will be conducted in open session during the Tuesday, Jan. 19 city council meeting. The council is expected to retreat into executive session to discuss the candidates’ qualifications, then return in open session and vote.
Langley is searching for a new planning director after the previous planner resigned and received a severance package equal to two months of pay and benefits, totaling more than $17,000. Callison said he formed a five-member selection committee that will review and interview candidates. To date, Callison said there were three applicants for the position that will remain open through January.
Giving his first mayor’s report, Callison made it brief. The highlight of his first day in office was speaking with an “irate” utilities customer.
The meeting concluded in just under one hour, one of the shortest meetings in the past few years.