Des Moines council rejects arts commission applicant

City officials are always struggling to find volunteers for citizen advisory boards.

Burien City Manager Mike Martin suggested Feb. 4 to his council members that they might forgo interviews to fill 20 advisory board positions since only 19 people had applied. No one has applied to be the city’s citizen representative on the county landmarks board, even though there might be no meetings to attend this year.

So it is unusual when city lawmakers reject a mayoral board appointment, especially when the applicant is a former City Council member.

However, on Feb. 7, the Des Moines council rejected Mayor Dave Kaplan’s appointment of Susan White to the city’s arts commission.

Councilmember Bob Sheckler commented White has a tendency to take charge of a project in a bullying manner and then take much of the credit for its success. White was a former ally of Sheckler when she was a councilmember and Sheckler served as mayor.

Sheckler, along with council members Carmen Scott, Jeannette Burrage and Mayor pro tem Matt Pina voted against the appointment. Mayor Kaplan and Councilmember Dan Caldwell voted in favor. Councilwoman Melissa Musser was absent.

The council confirmed Nancy L. Gosen’s appointment to the arts commission. Speaking before the formal vote, Gosen said the arts provide “economic and social muscle” to a city.

White and Gosen were the only applicants for the two vacancies.

After the vote, Pina said he was hoping for a wider group of applicants.

“We keep tapping on the shoulders of the same people,” Pina observed.

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