Monroe Council to pick new member

MONROE – The city plans to select a new City Council member from among 12 applicants tonight.

After interviewing each candidate for 15 minutes at a public meeting, the council is expected to announce a replacement for former City Councilman Ken Berger.

Berger resigned in April, just days before political foes had planned to begin collecting signatures to recall him.

The new council member will have to stand for election this fall.

The 12 candidates are Kenneth Cole, Edwin Davis, Wes Hagen Jr., David Kennedy, John Knettles, Brandy Knight, Paul Loots, Patrick McCabe, Kevin McDowell, Rick Ortiz, Lupita Petersen and Margie Rodriguez.

Mayor Donnetta Walser said that the number of candidates has exceeded her expectations.

“This has been just an overwhelming response,” Walser said.

The city needs someone who is honest and dedicated to the community, City Councilman Geoffrey Thomas said.

That all six current council members are white men concerns him, Thomas said, because the council should reflect the increasingly diverse community.

“I’d like to see more diversity on the council,” Thomas said. “At the same time I’ll be looking for other qualifications as well.”

Berger stepped down last month, saying he wanted to spare the city from discord caused by a recall effort against him.

The recall effort started after Berger agreed to pay the state $20,000 to settle allegations that he concealed his identity as a contributor in city elections in October.

The sooner the city puts the political turmoil behind, the better it can serve its people, candidates Loots and Hagen said Monday.

Hagen, a program manager for Microsoft, said he has lived in Monroe for about seven years, raising four children.

“It was about the time to start contributing my time and making a difference,” he said.

Loots, who works for a restaurant design company in Bellevue, said he’d like to bring a fresh perspective to the city.

“I feel like I can make a difference,” the father of two daughters said.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or

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