Sunnyside moving forward to fill vacant city positions

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- Sunnyside is slowly moving forward to fill three high-profile jobs. The city has been down two council members and a city manager since February. KIMA learned there are a handful of applicants so far.

It's a mess that Sunnyside's trying to clean up. They're replacing a city manager and two council members. Oscar Alvarez thought the recent turmoil in City Hall kept Sunnyside from moving forward.

"The politics in town are a mess," said Oscar.

Sunnyside's first priority is to fill the open council seats. Five people have applied for the two spots vacated by Nick Palaukis and Mike Farmer. The city hasn't decided whether to interview the candidates publicly or in private.

The Sunnyside mayor told KIMA he hopes to fill the two vacant city council member positions on March 25th and he hopes the decision to choose them is unanimous.

Once Sunnyside's City Council is back at full strength, the focus will shift to hiring a new city manager to replace Frank Sweet who was fired. Right now, Sunnyside's considering a temporary city manager from a so-called Range Rider program. This would be a retired city manager from another city. The city expects to pay about $10,000 a month for the work until someone is in there permanently. Interim city manager Aaron Markham said Sunnyside was holding its own.

"We're functioning to the best of our abilities and there's still enough council members seated to make decisions for the city," said Aaron.

"I think we're all concerned," said Oscar. "When's it going to get better?"

For now, the people of Sunnyside hope whoever winds up in the jobs will provide some stability that's been missing in recent years.

Sunnyside City council will go over its options for all of the positions in more detail during executive session on Monday.