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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Applicants for Spokane City Council appointment advance to public interviews

Spokane City Council member Lori Kinnear, who is serving as council president Pro Tem, was elected as interim council president July 17 at the city council meeting.  (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Six of the nine applicants hoping to serve on the Spokane City Council for three months will advance to public interviews on Thursday.

They hope to fill a seat vacated by Lori Kinnear, who in July was appointed to briefly serve as City Council president following the departure of former Council President Breean Beggs.

Kinnear was already term limited, and Paul Dillon and Katey Treloar are currently running to fill her seat for the next four years; once the November election is certified, the winner will replace the appointee.

Of the nine who applied to fill Kinnear’s seat until November, Mike Adolfae, Barry Barfield, Kelly Brown, Rob Higgins, Mary Ann McCurdy and Ryan Oelrich will all advance to the Thursday interviews. The interviews will take place at City Hall and run from 11:05 a.m. to 12:35 p.m., with each candidate being allotted 15 minutes to answer at least five questions.

These questions include what the applicants’ priorities would be, what skills they would bring to the job, how they would navigate the challenging 2024 budget, their conflict resolution skills and what the city’s role is in helping small businesses.

Initially, only three applicants were expected to proceed to the interview stage. However, the top pick of each of the six current council members automatically advanced, and every council member preferred a different candidate, Kinnear said in a brief interview.

“This is the first I can remember that everyone picked someone different,” Kinnear said.

Adolfae worked as the city’s community development director from 1981 to 2012, and before that as a city planner for both Spokane and Seattle. He has also served on the Association of Washington Cities as the Eastern Washington representative and as a member on the Washington state Department of Commerce affordable housing board.

Barfield worked for over three decades for Gonzaga Preparatory School in roles ranging from bus driver to administrator. He is the current administrator of the Spokane Homeless Coalition and leads Spokane Urban Plunge. He previously served as chair of the board of the city’s Community, Housing and Human Services department.

Brown currently serves as chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Spokane Park Board and is president of the Friends of Manito. She works as a program coordinator for the city’s Expo ’74 50th anniversary celebration.

Higgins previously served on the City Council and was the city’s first City Council president after the adoption of the strong-mayor system of city government. He retired last year from the Spokane Association of Realtors.

McCurdy runs her own consulting company, McCurdy Consulting, and worked as the Eastern Washington representative for then-Gov. Gary Locke from 1997 to 2005. She has experience with various civic organizations, such as the Lands Council, Rotary Club 21 and others.

Oelrich serves as the executive director of Priority Spokane, has worked as a commissioner, director and secretary for the Continuum of Care board and has been recognized by the U.S. Congress for his work on poverty and homelessness.