PORT ANGELES — City Council members will recall their late colleague Jim Moran’s legacy of civic duty tonight at their regular meeting as they prepare to consider naming his successor.
Moran, 71, whose activities spanned driving a senior center van to serving as chamber of commerce president, died Friday night or Saturday morning at his home, in his sleep.
“We presume this to be from natural causes,” Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney-Coroner Mark Nichols said Monday.
Deputy Mayor Kate Dexter and Mayor Sissi Bruch said Monday that council members could begin their discussion of selecting someone to complete Moran’s two-year unexpired term by the Dec. 3 council meeting.
They said they did not know if the selection would be made by the current seven-person council or the new council, which will include three new members.
Charlie McCaughan, Brendan Meyer and Navarra Carr — if her six-vote lead holds up in a potential recount — will be sworn into office in January.
Two more council meetings after tonight remain in 2019.
“We need to give the city some time to mourn him,” Bruch said. “We’ll ask the council what everyone feels would be a respectful time to move forward with a replacement.”
Choosing someone by the final meeting of the year Dec. 17 “would be really tight,” Bruch said.
The sitting council, which will lose Bruch and council members Cherie Kidd and Michael Merideth, could begin the process and let the new council finish it, she said.
“It will take some time for applicants to come forward, take time to do screenings.”
Dexter said she suspects the council could begin discussing a replacement process at the Dec. 3 meeting.
“My initial thoughts are on one hand, there is some potential value in having someone chosen in time to be sworn in with everyone else and we all start the new year with a full council in January,” she said.
“I also think because we haven’t had a conversation about the process, I want to make sure we don’t rush the process.”
City Attorney Bill Bloor said state law for code cities such as Port Angeles gives city councils wide latitude on filling vacant council positions.
“Each city can determine what that process is,” he said.
City councils can advertise for applicants, hold public interviews with them and meet in executive session to discuss their qualifications.
Council members must discuss the process of choosing a replacement at a public meeting, Bloor added.
The council members must appoint the replacement within 90 days. The person must be a registered voter and be a Port Angeles resident for one year.
Dexter said she expects council members will share their memories of Moran at the beginning of tonight’s regular meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. at city hall, or at the end during council members’ reports.
She recalled when the two spoke after Moran’s last council meeting Nov. 6, when they voted differently on the fractious issue of removing Bruch’s title of mayor over a dispute involving the fence at Veterans Memorial Park.
“That last meeting was challenging, but we had a nice followup after the meeting,” Dexter recalled.
“It reinforced to me the value of being kind to each other. When I heard he had died, I was really grateful we had the opportunity to have that kindness with each other.
“There are a lot of places where his presence is going to be missed, not just on the council.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.