SEQUIM — A little more than a month and one pandemic later, City Manager Charlie Bush has been reinstated to his position after he announced his decision on Feb. 10 to resign and hike the Appalachian Trail.
Bush’s last day would have been April 17, and Assistant City Manager Charisse Deschenes was set to serve as interim city manager the next day.
Following an executive session, Sequim City Council members on Monday voted 5-0 in favor of reinstating Bush. Council member Troy Tenneson abstained.
“I am thankful for the support of the Sequim City Council in making it possible for me to continue on with the city,” Bush said in a press release.
“I look forward to continuing to serve the community, especially during these difficult times.”
Hiking the 2,193-mile trail, which runs from Georgia to Maine, has been a lifelong dream for Bush, but the Appalachian Trail Conservancy has asked people to postpone their hikes to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Hikers often socialize while on the trail and also stop off into towns to augment supplies.
At Monday’s city council meeting, Bush gave a brief update about the city activating the Emergency Contingency Center (ECC) in the Sequim Transit Center before moving it to the Guy Cole Event Center.
City staff also established a utility relief fund during the COVID-19 crisis, continued to work mostly from home and provide information via press releases, social media, the city’s website and on kiosks and A-frame signs.
“It’s going to be a long-term disaster,” Bush said. “We have the initial virus and its recovery we’re all going to experience together.”
Mayor William Armacost said he feels fortunate the city will “benefit from Charlie’s leadership during this challenging time in our community.”
Bush said he has no personal timeline or plans right now.
“My only focus right now is to work on this response for the city and do my best job for the city,” he said.
The possibility to do a longer hike down the road may happen, Bush said, but it’s not set for any particular year, and he would talk to the City Council about any plans first.
Bush’s contract remains the same with no end date, city staff said Tuesday.
In February, Bush said his decision was based on multiple things including the recent loss of his father. This spring and summer he planned to hike the Appalachian Trail.
However, he’s following guidelines not to hike the trail in 2020.
Bush began working for Sequim on Aug. 15, 2015.
Deschenes, who was prepared to take on the interim city manager role, had been in discussions for a new contract, but said she is happy about Bush retaining his position.
“I am elated that he is willing to stay in the role of city manager,” she said in a press release. “He continues to be an amazing asset to the City of Sequim, a mentor to myself and to many in the organization.”
For more information about the City of Sequim, 152 W. Cedar St., visit www.sequimwa.gov or call 360-683-4139.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].