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Kimberly Exley appointed to city council

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Two candidates threw their hat into the ring for a vacancy on Warren City Council - Kimberly Exley, right, and Kirk Johnson. Council on Monday selected Exley to the post which runs through the end of the year.

Kimberly Exley has been appointed to the Warren City Council seat vacated as a result of Christian Zavinski’s resignation.

Council made the decision during a special meeting held on Monday. Two applicants had applied — Exley and Kirk Johnson.

Exley told council before the vote that she was “very excited for this potential opportunity.”

She was one of two Democrats who received the party’s nomination for a full four year term in the most recent primary.

Exley will serve in the appointed seat through the end of the year. Mayor Maurice Cashman said the county party committees would select candidates who would square off in the fall to fill the rest of what was Zavinski’s term — two years.

She told council that “one of the best things I think happened to me” was being asked into a constituent’s home to discuss the issues. She said that gave her a “new perspective on this whole thing.”

Johnson said he thought it would be his “civic duty to volunteer my services” for this seat, indicating he was “not really interested” in seeking election to continue in this seat.

He said the future of Washington Park – Johnson has been an adamant opponent of some development proposals for the park, especially mountain bike trails – “sparked my interest” and “motivated me” to seek office.

Johnson alleged an effort “behind the scenes to rush through a development plan. People don’t want that sort of development there.”

“(The) Washington Park issue is huge to me.”

Councilman Douglas Hearn asked Johnson whether he’d be able to “openly discuss and debate” the other issues before council in light of his interest in the park issue.

Johnson said he’s lived in the city since 2001 and is “aware of all the issues that affect the city. I follow all the issues and care about all the issues.”

Hearn asked him what other issues he is interested in and Johnson said parking and keeping taxes as low as possible.

Cashman asked Exley the same questions and she also raised Washington Park.

“I do feel that park needs something. It could use some help,” she said, questioning whether there is sufficient capacity for mountain bike trails. “EMS issues are always very concerning to me,” she added.

Hearn asked her what the role of the council is and Exley said it is to be a “public servant… guiding the city.”

Councilman John Wortman asked both if they have theories about what is at the heart of the city and county’s population loss.

“There’s nothing keeping anybody here,” Exley said.

Johnson cited being on the downside of the oil and timber booms as far back as the late 1800s.

“Hopefully,” he said, “we can do some things to plateau that decline off.”

Councilman Phil Gilbert then nominated Exley for the post. No councilmen put forth Johnson’s nomination.

Exley was then appointed in a unanimous vote.

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