Beth Munns may find herself running council meetings or cutting ribbons this year.
In a 5-2 vote Tuesday, Oak Harbor council members chose Munns as the new mayor pro tem.
As mayor pro tem, Munns will preside over meetings when Mayor Bob Severns isn’t there and will perform other mayor-like duties if the mayor asks her to fill in.
“Basically, the mayor pro tem does what the mayor does in place of the mayor if the mayor is unavailable,” City Attorney Nikki Esparza said.
Former Councilman Danny Paggao held the mayor pro tem position for years but retired from politics in the new year. He was in office for 24 years but chose not to seek reelection in the November election.
The late Mike Milat, a longtime councilman, was the mayor pro tem for many years prior to Paggao, according to former Mayor Al Koetje.
Tuesday, Councilman Rick Almberg nominated Munns to be the next mayor pro tem. He said it’s a council tradition to name the longest-serving council member to the position. Both he and Munns are currently the longest-serving members, having each been on the council for ten years.
Almberg also pointed out that she’s a voting member of the Association of Washington Cities and has a strong relationship with the Navy; she’s been at the Pentagon many times representing the city and is married to a former commander of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
Councilwomen Erica Wassinger and Tara Hizon nominated Councilman Joel Servatius. Hizon cited his knowledge of procedure and his availability as reasons why he should have the position.
Tradition won the day. The two new councilmen, Jim Woessner and Bill Larsen both cited tradition as the reason to choose Munns.
In the end, Almberg, Woessner, Larsen and Hizon voted for Munns, as did Munns herself. Wassinger and Servatius voted for Servatius.
According to Koetje, Munns is the city’s first female mayor pro tem.