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Finalists vie for top position at park district

The Vashon Park District board has selected four finalists for the position of general manager and has invited user groups and other members of the public to attend two special meetings where they’ll be able to ask the candidates questions.

The public forums will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, where each candidate will spend one hour in an open meeting with the public and one hour in a closed session with the park board, said Susan McCabe, the agency’s interim executive director.

The four candidates — two women and two men — include three islanders and one off-islander. Park district commissioners and park officials declined to reveal the names of the four finalists. Those close to the situation, however, say three of the four candidates are:

Matt Sullivan, a Vashon resident and former chief financial officer for Vashon Island Fire & Rescue who currently works as finance director for Seattle-King County Public Health Department, according to his LinkedIn profile;

Mike Mattingly, a Vashon resident and the former site superintendent for the park district’s Vashon fields project north of town; and

Rebekah Cardwell, a Tumwater resident who plans to move to Vashon and who currently works as the finance manager for the Broadway Center for Performing Arts in Tacoma.

A fourth candidate, an islander with an MBA and a background in finance, marketing and sales, asked that her name not be used in the newspaper because of her current employment situation.

About 60 people applied for the job, a $60,000-a-year position with a slightly different job description than the $70,000-a-year position Jan Milligan was hired for a year ago.

Commissioners said they were pleased by the caliber of several of the candidates. All told, the five-member board interviewed — either in person or over the phone — nine candidates, narrowing the field to the four finalists over the last several days.

“I like them all. I think we have some good candidates,” said Joe Wald, who chairs the park board.

Lu-Ann Branch, the commissioner who headed up the search process, concurred.

“We’ve got some really good possibilities,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a difficult decision.”

The meetings will be a slight departure from last year, when only user groups were invited to attend interviews and the process was not opened to the general public.

This time around, according to McCabe, those who attend the two public meetings this week will be asked to sign in, indicate what user group they represent and allowed to ask one question. Members of the general public will be able to ask one question as well, if there’s enough time after the user groups have interviewed the candidates, McCabe said.

All the meetings will be held at Ober Park.

Board members, meanwhile, say they’re committed to choosing the park district’s next leader by consensus. When Milligan was selected, it was a 3-1 vote, with Wald voting against her and Bill Ameling not in attendance.

Milligan was terminated last August.

“We want it to be unanimous this time,” Wald said.

 

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