New councilor will be chosen Tuesday

Seven citizens have applied for seat

By Mara Stine
The Gresham Outlook, Aug 20, 2007
Original story here

Gresham city councilors have seven citizens from which to choose a replacement for an empty council seat.

Council hopefuls who filed applications for Position 1 by the Wednesday, Aug. 15, deadline include David Widmark, Jenni Simonis, Tom Giusto, Michael McCormick, Darren Hippenstiel, John Kilian and Jason Ogan.

Citing time constraints due to her expanding consulting firm, Gresham City Councilor Karylinn Echols announced her resignation effective Aug. 1, during the Tuesday, July 17, council meeting.

City councilors on Tuesday, Aug. 21, will interview candidates, vote on who to appoint and swear in the new councilor.

A council subcommittee - consisting of Mayor Shane T. Bemis and councilors Paul Warr-King and Carol Nielsen-Hood - is still considering whether to interview all seven candidates Tuesday or whether to recommend a narrowed list of candidates for Tuesday's interviews, Bemis said.

The selected candidate will fill the remaining year and half left in Echols' four-year term, which ends in December 2008. Voters will choose a permanent replacement during the November 2008 election.

Candidates include:

  • David Widmark, who the council selected in 2005 to replace Dave Shields after Shields resigned to serve on the Mt. Hood Community College Board of Education. Widmark served as a councilor from 1996-98, a planning commissioner from 1988-96 and as a member of the city's finance committee. Back problems prevented him from running for the elected council position in 2006; however, his health has since improved. Widmark works as general manager/public relations director for Cramer Fish Sciences, a fisheries consulting firm based in Gresham, and spent 36 years working for the USDA Forest Service.
  • Jenni Simonis, a local activist and Web site designer, campaigns locally for various bonds, levies, ballot measures and initiatives; coordinated voter registration on two local college campuses; and worked for a Texas congressman helping constituents with issues such as dealing with federal agencies.
  • Tom Giusto, a local real estate broker, applied to run for a council position in 2006, but withdrew his candidacy to pursue the possibility of another upcoming elected position; serves as chairman of the Gresham City Council Fire Advisory Committee and is a member of the Council Transportation Advisory Committee.
  • Michael McCormick, a retired Portland firefighter and current sales associate for Home Depot in Troutdale.
  • Darren Hippenstiel, roadway-engineering designer for CH2M Hill and vice president of the Hollybrook Neighborhood Association.
  • Troutdale dentist John Kilian who lost bids for a City Council seat in 2006 and a position on the Multnomah County Education Service District in May; member of the Gresham Barlow Education Foundation.
  • Jason Ogan, general director of Oregon Lyric Opera and a former choir director for Mt. Hood Community College.


Reporter Mara Stine can be reached at or by calling 503-492-5117.


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