North Whidbey Park and Recreation District prefers Walker

The North Whidbey Park and Recreation District is moving forward with hiring a new executive director if a financial agreement can be reached.

Thursday evening, the commissioners approved a motion to start negotiating with Oak Harbor resident Bill Walker as the new director. The district’s main business is operating the John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool.

Walker was one of six finalists being considered to replace Craig Carlson, who resigned in December 2011.

Walker, owner of Ruby Creek Boathouse in Anacortes, has experience organizing kayak events in Seattle and is a former resort manager.

Commissioner Sean Merrill said Walker’s leadership skills and ability to work well with others made him the preferred candidate.

The commissioners interviewed six people for the position earlier in the spring, but stopped the process after questions arose as to whether the elected board followed the proper process to find a replacement. The board met with a lawyer and decided to step back and re-examine the applications of  approximately 20 people who applied.

The marathon public meeting Thursday included several executive sessions. The commissioners cut the candidate list to six finalists. They include Walker, Michael Weinbrecht from Meeker, Colo., Ricardo Freitas of Sepastopol, Calif., Bruce Irwin from Eugene, Ore., Robert O’Shaughnessy from Munster, Ind. and Rick Janecke from the Tri-Cities.

The commissioners met in executive session to review candidate qualifications before announcing Walker as the preferred choice. The board also ranked the finalists. Should negotiations fall through with Walker,  they will move on to Janecke, then O’Shaughnessy, then Fritas, then Irwin.

The commissioners set a salary scale of $50,000 to $59,000 for the new director position. The park district had budgeted $56,000 for the position this year before Carlson resigned.

Commissioners Lori Clark and Merrill will negotiate with Walker while commissioner Dennis Jepsen will work with a company to perform a background check.


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