County planning chief's job offered to Oregon candidate

An Oregon planning director was offered the job of Island County planning chief Monday.

David Wechner, head of the Josephine County Planning Department, was unanimously selected for the job by the Island County Board of Commissioners during the board’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Wechner was offered the job Monday afternoon but asked the commissioners for 24 hours to make a decision on whether to accept it.

He declined an interview with the Whidbey News-Times until he accepted the position and a contract is in place.

“I’m pleased that we have someone with Dave’s experience who has expressed interest in this position,” said Commissioner Helen Price Johnson, who made the motion to offer Wechner the job.

“I think he’ll be well matched with our county and with our community and I’m really looking forward to his great success.”

Commissioner Jill Johnson said she shares those “sentiments.”

Johnson added that she didn’t know what expect from the selection process and was happy with the “quality” of the applicants.

“We had a lot of viable choices and I’m excited where we ended up on this,” Johnson said. “I think this will be a good hire for Island County.”

“I’m hopeful that he will accept.”

Wechner would replace Bob Pederson, who resigned in March.

According to data from the 2010 U.S. Census, Josephine County has a population of about 82,700 people, contains 1,640 square miles and has a density of 50 people per square mile.

In comparison, Island County’s population in 2010 was about 78,500, with 208 square miles and a density of 377 people per square mile.

Located in southwestern Oregon, Josephine County is bordered by California and is home to the Hellgate Canyon-Rogue River, the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and the Oregon Caves National Monument.

Although the commissioners chose Wechner and agreed to offer him the job in an open public meeting, county officials rejected the News-Times’ requests for his resume pending his acceptance of the position.

Wechner reportedly has more than 20 years of planning and land-use experience in both the public and private sectors.

He also spent part of his career working in Washington state.

His nomination by the commissioners was unanimous.

Board Chairwoman Kelly Emerson said she is also “pleased with the nomination.”

“I thought he did a fine job in answering all of our questions and I look forward to engaging in the negotiation process with him and I hope we can convince him to come on board,” Emerson said.

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