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Citizens speak out regarding interim city manager

Three citizens stood up during the public comment portion of last night's city council meeting in Sunnyside to state opinions on the situation with Interim City Manager Frank Sweet.

Bob Widmann, pastor at the Cornerstone Assembly of God in Sunnyside, spoke first Monday night regarding his concerns with Sweet's position as city manager.

He said that he had been told by a "higher-up" in the city several reasons why Sweet was being allowed to remain as interim city manager.

Widmann listed the reasons, including the fact that the crime didn't occur in Sunnyside, the lack of a replacement for Sweet and a legal issue. Widmann then countered each of the reasons.

He also asked if the city was still offering the position of permanent city manager to Sweet.

Widmann suggested that the city terminate Sweet, hire a new interim city manager and allow Sweet to re-apply once his legal issues are resolved.

After he spoke, Councilwoman Theresa Hancock responded that none of the reasons cited by Widmann were true, to the best of her knowledge. She said the council is well aware of the moral issues.

Councilman Don Vlieger then spoke to agree with Hancock and said that individual citizens speaking at city council do not represent all their fellow citizens' opinion.

"We're elected officials." he said. "Other folks tell us what they want, too. And it's our job to do what's best for the city."

He also pointed out again that all seven council members agree on the issue.

"Obviously we may have a little more information than you have," said Vlieger. "And if you can't see behind what's going on in Selah, then you're blind."

Next up was Don Outhet who accused Vlieger of reading his (Outhet's) script. Outhet said that the council all agrees, which doesn't happen very often. He then said he also doesn't agree with every council member often, but he agreed with them on this issue.

He said the council wouldn't take the abuse they have been receiving if they didn't have the best interests of Sunnyside at heart.

"Sunnyside has a lot of problems. We need help," said Outhet. "We need a person who has experience. Who's made mistakes, like we all have. He's learned from them. We've learned from them. Let's move forward and work together to make this a better place. We need his help."

Speaking last was Regner Capener, who described himself as a longtime friend of Widmann. He then said he disagreed with Widmann on Sweet.

"I believe that many of the facts are not known publicly," he said. "I believe that Mr. Sweet has done an admirable job. What he has done thus far, I commend him for."

Capener argued that the accusations against Sweet are politically motivated.

"Someone has an agenda against him, and an agenda, I believe, that's targeted against this city," he said. "And I don't appreciate that agency. My commendations to all of you for standing in unity. That's a great picture for this city."

- Laura Gjovaag can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

LGjovaag@DailySunNews.com

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