New council member is also on November ballot
By Don Nelson
The Winthrop Town Council has selected Kirsten Vanderhalf to fill the position vacated by the recent resignation of council member Kellen Northcott — which may cause some confusion in the minds of Winthrop voters.
Or more confusion, given the shuffling of council positions in recent months.
Vanderhalf is already on the November general election ballot, facing former Mayor Anne Acheson to fill position 1 on the council.
At last week’s council meeting, Vanderhalf was appointed to position 4, until recently held by Kellen Northcott. Technically, she is only filling his unexpired term.
Vanderhalf’s name will only appear once on the November ballot, for the position 1 seat. William Kilby is running unopposed to fill position 4.
It gets even more convoluted. Joseph O’Driscoll, who recently was appointed to the position 1 seat vacated when council member Rick Northcott was appointed mayor, is running unopposed for the position 2 seat now held by Mike Strulic, who is not seeking re-election.
Rick Northcott, who is not seeking re-election, was appointed mayor to replace Acheson after she resigned. Council member Bob DeHart, who now holds council position 5, acted as mayor pro tem between Acheson and Rick Northcott. DeHart is running for mayor against Sally Ranzau, which means DeHart is giving up position 5. That seat is being sought by Bill McAdow, who is running unopposed.
Current council member Ben Nelson is running unopposed to continue filling position 3, which he now holds.
Vanderhalf, McAdow and Kilby were the only three applicants to fill Kellen Northcott’s position. Each told the council at last week’s meeting that it would be advantageous for them to get a head start on council service if appointed.
After a brief executive session, Vanderhalf was appointed. She will be sworn in at the Sept. 20 council meeting.
Ultimately, four of the five council positions are uncontested: O’Driscoll, Nelson, Kilby and McAdow will be on the council; the races for mayor and position 1 will determine the rest of the council’s makeup.
Vanderhalf has lived in Winthrop for about 4 1/2 years, but has been a lifelong visitor to the Methow Valley. She is the partner of Paul Gann, owner of North Valley Lumber, where she works part-time. She also is a substitute teacher at Methow Valley Elementary School, and has been involved as a volunteer in several local organizations, including Methow Valley Riding Unlimited, Classroom in Bloom and Little Star Montessori School.
Vanderhalf is currently chair of the Westernization Design Review Board. Her experience on the Westernization board, which she described as “great as well as challenging,” prompted her interest is the town council, Vanderhalf said.
“It was really frustrating to get anything through,” Vanderhalf said of the process for updating the Westernization code requirements. “I want to help move things along, and there are lots of things that need more attention.”
In other business:
• The council appointed Brian Sweet, co-owner of Cascades Outdoor Store on Riverside Avenue, to a position on the Westernization Design Review Board.
• Approved discontinuation of water and sewer service to lots on Center Street owned by Mike Kutz, who told the council that he has no immediate plans to develop the property.
• Approved a request by Wilton and Deborah Tom, of Kirkland, to mitigate the town requirement for three parking spaces to serve a residence on Bridge Street that they are converting to overnight rental. The Toms told the town that they only have room for two off-street parking spaces. They will pay the town $1,500 to mitigate the three-space requirement. That money will go into a special fund for parking improvements in Winthrop. The fund now has about $7,500, Town Planner Rocklynn Culp said.
• Agreed to form an ad hoc committee to address the issue of obstructions that pedestrians encounter on the town’s boardwalks, mainly caused by benches placed in front of businesses.