Yelm Community Center
Photo credit: Yelm Chamber of Commerce
The Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce invited their members to join Mayor Harding and the Yelm City Council at an Open House to meet City Administrator Candidate, Stefan Chatwin, Thursday from noon to 1pm at the Yelm Community Center. This was billed as an opportunity for the business community to come together, meet and share ideals. Chatwin recently resigned from the City Administrator post for 5 years in Hayden, Idaho.
This invitation was sent to members only Wednesday afternoon, so few were in attendance on such short notice, so the business community did not come together, meet and share ideals. However, in the small audience were Interim City Administrator Bill Brandon, several city Dept. Heads, three Councilors (Hendrickson, DePinto, Carmody), Yelm Schools Superintendent Andy Wolf, Police Chief Stancil and three of his officers, NVN Publisher/Editor Michael Wagar, 3 Yelm Business Assn.(YBA) Board members, and a handful of locals.
– My conversation with City Administrator Candidate Chatwin:
I introduced myself to Mr. Chatwin [age 48] and asked if he was the Yelm City Administrator-appointee and he said he was not, just a candidate, although Mr. Harding has not introduced nor mentioned if there are any other candidates. Chatwin mentioned he is a staunch advocate for “open government and transparency,” which I told him would be welcome by citizens and Councilors alike, as we had three newly elected Councilors who were specifically elected with that very issue on their platforms. Noted was the fact that Chatwin’s former boss and then-Hayden mayor also had the same first name as Yelm’s Mayor, Ron. I also asked Chatwin about his experience with an Idaho Supreme Court case and public works issues, which are similar to Yelm’s [see below].
From The Coeur d’ Alene [ID.] Press
December 12, 2015:
“Hayden seeking new city administrator”
“Stefan Chatwin tendered resignation effective Wednesday [December 16, 2015]”
“Recently, the city [Hayden, ID] has been fighting a legal battle that could potentially cost the city millions of dollars. The suit, filed by the North Idaho Building Contractors Association, questions the method the city uses to collect sewer capitalization fees from developers to use toward the expansion of its wastewater treatment facility.
The Idaho Supreme Court has sided with the contractors association in that case, and remanded the issue back to the district courts to resolve. A hearing on that case has been scheduled for February. If the contractors prevail, the city could be forced to refund more than $3 million it has collected since that program started.
Even more recently, the city has been criticized for neglecting to update its impact fee system, which is required by law.
When asked if those were factors in Chatwin’s decision to resign, [Mayor Ron] McIntire simply reiterated: ‘I just think he was looking for a change.'”
From The Coeur d’ Alene [ID.] Press, after Chatwin being on the job almost 2 years”
July 1, 2011:
“Hayden at a crossroads”
“Three members of the Hayden City Council have lost confidence in their city administrator, Stefan Chatwin.
Because of that, Chatwin’s losing confidence in his ability to do his job, unfettered by political gamesmanship or workplace shenanigans.
For the good of the city, we encourage all parties to mend fences.
Chatwin has made some enemies since he assumed the top administrative post in Hayden city government in March 2009. He’s streamlined the bureaucracy, reducing nine department head positions to four.”
But by his own admission, Chatwin needs to listen more closely to his bosses on the council and be more aware of his tendency to come off as arrogant or unapproachable with his employees.”
“We have an abiding respect for each of the council members and for Chatwin. In our experience, nobody in government, at the local, state or federal levels, is more thorough, open and responsive to requests for public information than is Chatwin. We see Hayden city government, working together, as one of the most effective and efficient teams around.”
Chatwin presented himself as a professional, well-polished, prepared executive who easily answered questions presented to him. He had better be going for Yelm’s highest paid position, at well over $100,000+ a year. He seems to be his “own-man” and will stand-up to Mayor Harding and speak-up when he is in disagreement, when required. He expressed a firm resolve to work together with city staff, councilors, and the community. However, in the interview process, some tough and difficult questions need to be addressed to him about 3 of Hayden’s Councillors wanting to terminate his contract in 2011, and what was behind his abrupt resignation from there last December. The Yelm Municipal Code (YMC) requires the City Council to confirm Mayor Harding’s appointment, so I expect public discourse by the Yelm City Council if Chatwin is presented as Mr. Harding’s City Administrator appointee, as there are some things in Chatwin’s past that need a thorough due diligence. This is very important for the future of Yelm!
Blogger Klein is a founding board member of the Yelm Business Assn. (YBA).