Gresham City Councilor Karylinn Echols has been elected president of the Gresham City Council, replacing David Widmark, who has served as council president for the past two years.

The president presides over meetings in the mayor's absence and serves as a liaison between the mayor and city councilors.

Councilor Josh Fuhrer nominated Echols for the position during the Jan. 3 meeting, but before the nomination was seconded, Councilor John Kilian nominated Councilor Lori Stegmann, which Councilor Paul Warr-King seconded.

But Stegmann turned down the nomination, despite being 'flattered and grateful' for it.

'I think it's in the best interests of the City Council and the city of Gresham that I will respectfully decline.'

With that the council unanimously approved Echols for the position. Echols was appointed a year ago to fill a seat left empty when Councilor Shirley Craddick was elected to the Metro Council. Residents elected Echols to the seat last May, allowing her to fill out the remainder of the term, which expires at the end of this year. She previously served as Gresham city councilor from 2005-07.

Surplus property sold

In addition, the council voted to sell a piece of surplus property to Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East for $1, with the agreement that the house be used as low-income housing for 15 years. The property, a small house in Rockwood, is located in the 18800 block of Southeast Yamhill Street.

Using federal Community Development Block Grant funds to rehabilitate the house, the city put it on the market in October 2008, hoping to recoup the money invested. But with the sluggish housing market, the city couldn't find a buyer. After a year and a half, the city took the house off the market.

Habitat for Humanity plans to make the property available as low-income housing.

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