Oak Harbor police chief candidates to meet public Thursday | Corrected
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
September 4, 2012 · Updated 2:46 PM
Oak Harbor residents will get the chance to meet the three candidates for the police chief position this Thursday night.
Citizens, however, probably won’t know much about the candidates going into the low-key venue because the city won’t release their resumes.
The city is inviting the public to a meet-and-greet session with the candidates from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6 at the Oak Harbor Fire Station.
The candidates are Edgar Green of Port Townsend, Julius “Phil” Schenck of Sunnyside and Andrew Reinhardt of Prescott, Ariz.
Mayor Scott Dudley said the three men are the only remaining of the original 15 applicants for the job. City officials narrowed the candidates to seven people. Since then, all but the three remaining have withdrawn their names.
“We’re optimistic,” the mayor said. “There are three left and I’m certain they are all dedicated to making Oak Harbor a safer place.”
Following the public session, the three candidates will be interviewed Friday by a panel that includes members of law enforcement, citizens and City Council members. The interviews start at 9 a.m. and will continue for much of the day. The panel’s goal is to forward the names of two of the candidates to the mayor for final selection.
Dudley said the panel interviews will be open to the public. The interim human resources director, however, said they will be closed.
The interim human resources director, after conferring with city administration, refused to release the candidates’ resumes. The press release from the city included no information about the men beyond their city of residence.
By comparison, resumes of police chief candidates were made available to the media and public during the selection process under the former mayor.
Dudley fired former Police Chief Rick Wallace in June, just before the City Council was set to adopt a measure that would have protected him from being terminated as an at-will employee. Dudley had tried to force Wallace to retire this summer.
Since taking office in January, Dudley has also fired the city administrator, the fire chief and two city attorneys.
Lt. Tim Sterkel, a longtime member of the department, has been acting police chief since Wallace left. Sterkel supported Dudley in last year’s campaign. City Council members, however, tweaked the police chief job description so that he no longer qualifies for the chief position.
To the consternation of City Council members, Dudley delayed the process of hiring a permanent police chief after the council declared a financial emergency this summer. He argued that having interim people in administrative positions saves the city money because those people are essentially doing two jobs.
In the beginning of August, the city had 24 unfilled positions. Since then, City Clerk Connie Wheeler has left her job.
“Tough shoes to fill and we will miss her greatly,” Dudley said.
The council passed a motion directing city officials to move ahead with filling administrative positions.
Dudley had questioned whether the council had the authority to do so since state law gives the mayor the role of hiring and firing employees. He was backed up by the Municipal Research and Service Center.
Nevertheless, Dudley said he plans on moving forward with hiring a new police chief, especially since the candidates applied months ago and are waiting for a decision.
In addition, Dudley said the city is focusing on finding a new city clerk and a permanent human resources director. The city had advertised for the human resources position, but got very little interest.
“We’ve wiped the slate clean and opened it up again,” he said.
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at email@example.com or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.