Oak Harbor looking at hiring city attorney
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
March 18, 2013 · Updated 8:53 AM
Oak Harbor may soon gets its fourth city attorney in a little over a year.
The City Council will decide during Tuesday night’s meeting whether to confirm the mayor’s appointment of Bert “Dee” Boughton to the position.
Boughton was the Port Townsend city prosecutor and assistant city attorney until the end of last year when his job was one of 10 eliminated during budget cuts.
If confirmed, Boughton said he plans to move to Oak Harbor with his wife and their two school-aged boys.
“I really love Whidbey Island,” he said, “the north end particularly.”
Mayor Scott Dudley said a panel of council members and city officials interviewed two candidates and he chose Boughton for the $135,000-a-year job.
Getting to this point has taken awhile. Dudley fired Margery Hite, the former city attorney, after coming into office last year. He appointed Bill Hawkins, the assistant city attorney, as city attorney and then fired him about five months later.
The council approved a contract with Grant Weed of the Snohomish firm Weed, Graafstra and Benson to act as interim city attorney; the contracted work cost about twice what a regular city attorney earns.
Dudley said the city had trouble finding a permanent replacement. He said the city advertised for a city attorney in August and September, but no qualified applicants came forward.
As a result, Dudley suggested that the city hire a headhunting firm to recruit an attorney. The council approved a contract with Seattle-area Prothman Company at a cost of up to $25,000.
Dudley said two applicants were identified in the process and Boughton rose to the top.
“What he may lack in experience … he’s going to make up for in his ability to make sure he gives us the best possible advice,” he said, adding that he expects Boughton will research questions instead of giving off-the-cuff answers.
Boughton was employed as city prosecutor and assistant city attorney by the city of Port Townsend for two years. He built the prosecutor’s office “from scratch,” he wrote in his resume.
As part of his job, Boughton led a team comprised of police, domestic violence advocates and county prosecutors to create a domestic abuse response team in Port Townsend and Jefferson County. The result has been “significantly improved investigations, victim contact by advocates, and prosecution,” he wrote.
Prior to working for Port Townsend, he owned a general contractor business from 2006 until 2008.
Boughton was also a deputy prosecuting attorney in Kitsap County from 1997 until 2006. He worked at a private firm for four years before that.
In the past, mayors appointed city attorneys in Oak Harbor without having to go to the council for approval. But the council changed the rules last year to require a confirmation vote, according to Dudley.
Dudley said Boughton met with all the council members and he’s hopeful they will confirm him Tuesday.
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at email@example.com or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.