City administrator leaves North Bend
May 23, 2012
By Michele Mihalovich
The Prince of Darkness is now Friday Harbor’s problem.
Duncan Wilson, North Bend city administrator, attended his final City Council meeting May 15.
He told the Star that just five days after he started his new job, North Bend experienced massive flooding.
“We had to open the Emergency Operations Center for the first time in years,” Wilson said. “It was my first week and we were dealing with trapped citizens, significant property damage and impassable roadways. Five weeks later, we had massive wind storms that took down transmission lines throughout Western Washington.
“Most of North Bend was without power for six days,” he added. “We had to get emergency generators. We had to move elderly residents out of retirement homes to beds at the hospital. Communications were sketchy and cell service was lost. We opened the EOC again … the second time in six weeks.”
Wilson said that when he showed up at the next council meeting, Councilman Jonathan Rosen had taped the “Prince of Darkness” moniker on the back of his nameplate.
“It has been there for five years. Privately, he begged for me to spare the citizens of North Bend from further destruction,” Wilson said.
The friendly ribbing between Wilson and the city’s staff and elected officials lightened things up at many council meetings.
Deputy Chief Bud Backer, with Eastside Fire & Rescue, couldn’t say goodbye without one last jibe at the outgoing administrator.
Backer said he and the crew wanted to give Wilson a firefighter’s challenge coin.
“There are four qualities you must meet before you can receive this coin: leadership, integrity, dedication and service. But we’ve decided to give it to you anyway.”
Several councilmembers told Wilson that they’ve appreciated his one-liners and snarky comments, which helped keep their spirits up during difficult decisions.
“You have a great sense of humor that cuts through everything,” Rosen said. “But you also kept the momentum going on projects and you always put the city first.”
Councilman Ryan Kolodejchuk described Wilson as inspiring and “passionate about this city.”
Mayor Ken Hearing said that Wilson was instrumental in getting the park & ride and roundabout projects finished, as well as securing water rights and ending the city’s moratorium on development.
“You will be missed,” he said.
Quite a few tears were shed on Wilson’s last night, including his own, when he told the council and staff, “This is the best job I’ve ever had. We’ve had the highest quality of individuals on the council and the staff does an absolutely miraculous job. They made me look good … Think about how dire it looked in 2006. Now, a hotel and houses are being built. The turnaround has been amazing.”
Since learning of Wilson’s approaching departure to be the town administrator of Friday Harbor, Hearing announced at each City Council meeting how many more “wake-ups” until Wilson was gone.
On Tuesday, he announced that they’d hit ground zero on wake-ups.
Londi Lindell, Wilson’s replacement, officially started May 1 — and has already caused giggling episodes with the council and staff.
“You guys are so lucky to have Londi,” Wilson said to the gathering. “I’m very happy knowing I’m leaving the city in such capable hands.”