Atwater’s newest commissioner almost didn’t make it on the panel – it took a little bit of persuasion.
“A lot of people came to me and said I would be a good voice on the commission,” said James Murphy III. “I’m a little bit nervous about it.”
But Murphy is not a newcomer to city government committees. He served on the parks and recreation commission for 12 years. Last year, Murphy spoke out against combining the parks and recreation, planning and traffic commissions into one “super” commission, saying the city would lose commissioners with specialized knowledge and the move would limit public input.
Case in point, the super commission – formally called the Community Development and Resources Commission – didn’t have anyone on the panel with knowledge of parks and recreation issues – until Murphy, who chaired the parks and recreation commission, was selected this month.
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“We deal with a lot of issues, and we’re not all qualified in everything,” said Chairman Gary Brice. “We need someone from parks and recreation, and he’s going to bring a lot of knowledge to the table.”
Murphy was one of six people scheduled to interview for the vacancy on the commission. The seat belonged to former Commissioner Eric Lee, who resigned a month after being appointed. Lee said he stepped down to keep his seat on the Measure H Committee and because of the time commitment.
Others who interviewed for the spot were Ryan Daugherty, Jimmie Davis, John Rasmussen and Jerry Rossiter. Former planning Commissioner Fred Warchol was scheduled to be interviewed, but did not participate.
Mayor Jim Price, Mayor Pro Tem Larry Bergman and Councilman James Vineyard ranked the candidates after they were asked eight questions during a special meeting last week. Councilman Brian Raymond was absent.
Councilman Joe Rivero arrived almost an hour into the interview process due to “vehicle problems.” Having missed the interviews, the tardy councilman asked if he could rank and vote on the candidates using their applications. Bergman said that would be unfair to the candidates and consulted the city attorney for advice.
Rivero argued that council members were allowed to vote without witnessing the interviews in the past, but voluntarily stepped down from the process.
As for his role as a commissioner, Murphy said he looks forward to doing what’s best for Atwater residents. “Just a fair warning – I speak my mind,” he said. “If something needs to be said, I say it.”