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Banks gets new council member

on duty -- Ron Kemper will join panel which must now renew city manager search

The Banks city council appointed a new member last week in the midst of dealing with the fallout over the city's failed attempt to hire a city manager.

Ron Kemper, a banks native who works for the Tualatin Valley Water District, was appointed by the council in a 3-2 vote, with mayor Teri Brandstitre casting the tie-breaking vote.

Council member Pete Edison could not attend the meeting last Tuesday because he was traveling.

Kemper will finish the two-year term that Brandstitre left on council in November to take over the mayor's job.

Kemper said he's looking forward to participating in city politics and hopes to bring his experience with water distribution to the council job.

'I'm pretty active in a lot of the stuff in Banks,' Kemper said. 'I just wanted to have a say in what's going on and with my water background I thought I might be able to help.'

Kemper said the major issue facing the city today seemed to be the search for a its first city manager, which went awry earlier this month when the council's chosen candidate, Donald Whitman, of Caney, Kansas, resigned his position before his first day on the job despite signing a contract with the city.

City Recorder Jolynn Becker said that the city will try to recoup the cost of the airfare it paid to bring Whitman and his family out to Banks to look for a house before he was to start as city manager.

Becker said the total for the trip was $744, and that the city would invoice Whitman for payment.

Whitman was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.

Becker said that the city paid the travel expenses of two other candidates for the city manager position last year, but wouldn't seek payment from Whitman for that trip (which Becker estimated to less than $300) because the city factored that into the cost of the job search.

'The city paid for everybody,' Becker said. 'Anyone who came in from out of town we paid for their travel costs.'

Kemper said that he looked forward to participating in city government, even if it meant more long city council meetings like last week's, which lasted from 7:30 p.m. until midnight.

Kemper has lived in the city his whole life, except for a short stint following his marriage to his high school girlfriend Kaydi 15 years ago.

He and his wife live in Banks with their three boys ages 14, 12 and 9.