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A Look at Recent Unconventional Planning Commission Appointments

Mayor Steve Friedman recently appointed Mark Kroese and Jared Wheeler to fill two vacant positions on the city’s Planning Commission. While the appointments are part of Friedman’s new job description, what sets these appointments apart is the lack of even the appearance of an unbiased process. Freidman did not even bother to hold any interviews with several qualified applicants – including one of the incumbents.

The Unconventional Appointments

Mayor Friedman’s decision to forgo interviews in the selection process is a cause for concern. It appears to be another example of sacrificing impartiality in favor of personal connections – as can be seen by both Kroese and Wheeler’s appointments.

Kroese is fresh off a recent defeat in November’s City Council election against Councilmember Ryan Olson. A public document revealed that Kroese signed a petition for a homeowner seeking a variance while running for City Council. Tellingly, Kroese also has a decades-long friendship with Councilmember Hachamovitch. 

As for Wheeler, he gained notoriety for his involvement in the “flagate” debacle. His clash over an American flag blocking his view led to legal expenses that cost taxpayers a significant sum. However, fortunately for Wheeler’s application to the Planning Commission, he is a friend of Mayor Friedman. In fact, Friedman publicly backed Wheeler during the flag-related controversy.

Overlooking Qualified Candidates

One of the candidates that Mayor Friedman did not even bother to interview is Brandon Pack. Notably, Pack has served on the Planning Commission for four years and advocated for important issues like protecting views and limits on transitional housing. Additionally, Lyn Adams, a longtime resident for sixty years and decades of involvement in Clyde Hill, was overlooked and not interviewed. 

The disregard for experienced and committed individuals in the community is disheartening – but not necessarily surprising. This appears to be part of a recurring pattern of appointing individuals based on personal connections rather than merit. Of course, this undermines community engagement. 

The insider-driven decision-making process discourages qualified individuals from applying for positions, knowing that the outcome may already be predetermined. As a community, we must address these issues to ensure a fair and transparent representation in our local governance. We urge citizens to remain vigilant and engaged in local politics, emphasizing the importance of transparency, fairness, and community representation. We must always remind our officials that they work for us and should always act with our interests in mind, not their own.

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