LINCOLN CITY — Last week, the Lincoln City City Council hired one of its own, Councilor Anne Marie Skinner, back into the role of director of planning and community development for Lincoln City.

Skinner was first hired by the city in 2019 and was promoted to the planning director position after a previous director departed. She later gave up the position to run for city council in 2020 and returned to work for a former employer during that time.

“You’re not allowed to do both, unfortunately, so I gave up my position as planning director to serve on the council,” Skinner said.

Skinner won that election and was to fill out the remaining two years of former councilor Diane Kusz’s term, who was elected in 2018 for a four-year term but resigned in 2020. With Skinner’s recent departure, a little over one year now remains on that term.

Skinner said that after serving on the council for roughly a year and keeping an eye on the city’s planning department during that time, she ultimately decided her skills would better serve the city in that position rather than on the council.

“As I was watching the planning department and saw that the person who had just been hired left, I decided to apply again when the position was posted and ended up being hired, which meant I had to resign from city council, since again, you can’t do both,” Skinner said. 

Skinner has 24 years of experience as a planner and started out working alongside her father, who is a licensed land surveyor. After graduating college, she continued working with him as a planner until she was hired at a city in Idaho and later worked for different cities, counties and private companies in Oregon before landing in Lincoln City, where she decided her skills would be best used in the public sector.

“My passion for planning is in the public sector because I feel like I can do a lot to help everyone, from a developer who will submit several projects at a time to a resident who might only submit one project,” Skinner said. “That kind of assistance you can’t really offer as a city councilor.”

Skinner resigned before the council’s Sept. 13 meeting, and she was rehired by council vote as part of the meeting’s consent agenda. Such hiring decisions are normally left under the purview of the city manager, but as Lincoln City is currently in the process of finding and hiring a new manager, Interim City Manager Lila Bradley was required to defer to council vote on hiring decisions. 

With Skinner’s departure, the council will once again need to decide how to fill an empty seat, most members hoped to be at full strength when the time came to hire a new city manager.

To that end, the council voted earlier this summer to hold a special election to fill the vacant seat left empty by the resignation of former councilor Diana Hinton in April, rather than waiting for the upcoming Nov. 2 election, which would have been too late for the winner to vote on the manager.

That special election was held this Tuesday, Sept. 21, with Elaine Starmer leading in votes and set to step into the position early next month, filling six out of seven seats.

“I think the remaining councilors are stellar, and you don’t need a full council to make that decision anyway — you just need four votes,” Skinner said. “So long as you have a council with four people, which we do, you can make that decision. I have no doubts the rest of the council will be able to make that decision and hire a great city manager.”

As of Wednesday, Lincoln City Mayor Susan Wahlke was unsure how the council would go about filling Skinner’s vacant seat, but she suggested that, unlike with the previous opening, the council may choose to appoint someone given how little time is left in Skinner’s term.

“The time remaining in this position is just a little over a year, and we’ll likely be discussing it at length during Monday’s meeting, though I haven’t seen our latest agenda yet,” Wahlke said. “Hinton’s term was almost a four-year term, and that played a lot into how we determined how to fill it. (Starmer) won’t be sworn in yet, but there will likely be five of us on council ready to determine how we fill this position going forward.”

 

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