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Lacking a manager, planner and attorney, Kinsky leaves city after moving to Hillsboro

KinskyA city that has lost its manager, attorney and planner since last fall, has now lost its mayor, too.

Banks Mayor John Kinsky resigned Tuesday, March 12, at the city council meeting, effective the same day.

Kinsky sold his Banks home last week — faster than expected after putting it up for sale a couple months ago. Because he no longer owns property in the city, he can’t serve as mayor, according to the city charter.

Kinsky, a manager at Intel, already made the move to Hillsboro with his family last month after more than eight years living in Banks.

“We’ve been thinking about moving for four years,” Kinsky said. “We would’ve liked to have stayed in Banks, but there were just no houses to fit our needs.”

The Kinsky's new home will house two of their three children — as well as inventory from Lanai Kinsky's jewelry business — more comfortably, he said.

“I had an inkling this was coming, but I didn’t know for sure and didn’t think it would be so soon,” said interim City Manager Jolynn Becker. “He really cared about what was going on in the city and Banks’ future.”

Kinsky served as mayor for four years after he was elected to his first term with 11 votes.

He had no experience with local government before he was elected and admits the first few meetings he led were disastrous. He was upfront with city staff and council about his lack of experience, though, and slowly improved.

Now, he ends his career with a list of accomplishments he’s proud of, although he makes it clear it was a group effort. Urban Growth Boundary expansion and setting the stage for potential future expansion, improvements to the city’s water system and a remodel of the library top Kinsky's list.

Working with and listening to people from a variety of backgrounds and building consensus and agreement are among the skills Kinsky thinks helped him succeed in mayoral tasks.

Edison steps in

Although he’s leaving Banks, Kinsky is not leaving the city completely in the lurch. Pete Edison, city council president and 10-year council veteran, will step up in Kinsky's absence.

“I’m absolutely interested in being mayor,” said Edison, whose day job is as a partner in a seafood trading company. “I have a feeling [the] council will take action at the meeting next month.”

Edison was unable to attend the meeting because he was out of town on business, so council deferred discussion until their April meeting.

Banks’ charter states council can appoint a mayor mid-term without an election.

“Pete is a solid guy. If he was mayor I think he would be a much better mayor than I was,” said Kinsky of Edison, who was equally complimentary about Kinsky.

“He’s been an excellent mayor and a very good leader,” Edison said.

Kinsky feels the City of Banks is in good hands with the current council and would like to see Banks expand its UGB again and make some water-utility improvements in the future.

Now that he’s had a taste for local government leadership, Kinsky will likely take on a role in Hillsboro, perhaps serving on the city's budget committee.

“I really do feel like it was a privilege to be mayor and I tried to be as good as I could be,” said Kinsky, who donated his mayoral stipend to charity. “I love Banks’ size, character, setting and people. I will remember my time in Banks fondly.”

More open positions

The City of Banks has a few more open positions to fill.

According to Interim City Manager Jolynn Becker, the city needs a new planner by March 31, the day current planner K.J. Won retires after nearly two decades with the city.

Becker is currently trying to negotiate a contract with the city's top candidate.

In one of his final acts as mayor, John Kinsky recommended Reeve and Kearn, a Portland law firm, to fill the city attorney position.

“They’re not only a good fit but a perfect solution for us,” Kinsky said. “I think they’re the right people.”

Former Banks city attorney Jim Lucas of Forest Grove died last December after a battle with cancer.

Becker has contacted Reeve and Kearn and is currently reviewing contracts.

There are also several volunteer openings for interested citizens, including two on the planning commission, a seven-member panel.

The commission reviews building, land use and zoning applications to make sure they comply with codes before recommending them to the city council.

Currently, members must live within Banks city limits. In an effort to recruit more commissioners, however, city councilors are discussing whether to accept those who simply own property within the city limits.

Last week, city councilors appointed Gene Stout to the budget committee, which reviews staff suggestions regarding next year’s budget.

The committee still has two seats open, including one just vacated by Lanai Kinsky, the former mayor’s wife.

There are also two open positions on the Tree Board, which keeps track of requests to remove or replace trees on public property.

City council members are currently discussing the idea of combining the Tree Board and the Parks Management Committee. “It makes more sense because they overlap” and it has been difficult to keep both committees full, Becker said.

The search for a city manager is currently on the back burner during this time of transition.

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