After a contentious evening, the Sunnyside City Council voted at Monday night's workshop to begin negotiations to hire Frank Sweet as interim city manager.
Sweet was the city of Selah's top administrator until this past January. The newly elected mayor in Selah severed ties with Sweet immediately after taking office at the beginning of the year.
The council went into an executive session despite a protest from former mayor Jim Restucci, who quoted the council's rules and procedures that forbid such a session, by Restucci's interpretation. His point of order was rejected by the mayor and by a vote of the council.
Before the council went into executive session they allowed comments from two members of the public. Ross Courtney of Prosser, a reporter for the Yakima-Herald, noted the council needed to take any action in open session.
John Rodriguez of Sunnyside argued that the council action was contrary to the will of the people.
"Who do you represent?" asked Rodriguez. He asked why Mark Gervasi, the current city manager who submitted a letter of resignation last month, was not being considered for interim city manager. Gervasi has since tendering his resignation indicted he's willing to stay on until a permanent replacement can be found.
Mayor Mike Farmer stated that Gervasi's resignation letter had a departure date of April 6, and that is why the council is searching for an interim manager.
Rodriguez asked why there wasn't an open search for interim manager. Farmer said there is no requirement for the search to be open.
The council then retired to what it announced would be a 15-minute executive session that took an hour and a half, and when they returned they voted 5-2 to start negotiations to hire Sweet as interim city manager.
Dissenting were Nick Paulakis and Theresa Hancock.