Lifetime librarian selected to Ocean Shores city council

After one councilor recused from selection, majority appoints Denise Siers from field of eight

From a robust field of candidates, the Ocean Shores City Council Tuesday night selected a lifetime librarian to a vacant seat, though the body’s luxury of choice led to at least a few moments of paralysis.

A majority of the five council members who were serving as an appointment committee chose Denise Siers, who established the Ocean Shores Library Foundation and has served on several adjacent boards, to fill the vacant Position 1 on the city council.

Siers was sworn in directly following the vote to approve her nomination.

“It felt good to get nominated, of course,” Siers said Tuesday evening.

Siers said she will step down from her current position as president of the Ocean Shores Library Board of Trustees because of conflict of interest.

Siers fills the position left open by the resignation of former Councilor Eric Noble, who resigned Jan. 2 citing work commitments, following an election season during which he said he was the victim of political attacks. The Position 1 seat will be up for election in 2025.

Eight applicants for the vacant seat gave testimony to the sitting council Tuesday evening, making their cases for the position and responding to a series of questions.

“I’ve attended dozens of different city councils to personally see the positive impact as well as the negative that council decisions have on the quality of local life,” Siers said to the council.

The 70-year-old former library administrator moved from Issaquah to Ocean Shores full time eight years ago after working in the King County library system for 23 years. As a regional director of public services, she was responsible for 20 libraries and 500 employees, according to her resume.

Besides founding the Ocean Shores Library Foundation and serving as the board of trustees president, Siers is a former president of the Ocean Shores Friends of the Library and past board member of the Ocean Shores Food Bank.

Siers told the council Tuesday that “Ocean Shores is at a critical crossroads with known problems to be solved. We have the erosion, waterways, infrastructure as well as the opportunities for recreational, business and residential growth.”

When asked by the council if she had a vision for the city, Siers said her take aligned with the council’s stated mission.

“The city council already has a vision, which is to make Ocean Shores a destination community for both residential and beach resort, to be economically stable in providing the technological, cultural and social amenities,” she said, adding that a vision should viewed with “broad terms.”

“What’s important about the vision is really creating the goals, objectives, along with a timeline of how you get there,” Siers said. “Those are all equally important, actually, vitally important in any vision that we have for the city.”

After a life in the public sphere, Tuesday evening was Siers’ first stab at an elected office. She didn’t file to run for any of the four seats up for grabs in November’s general election.

Others argued results of the recent election should have been a deciding factor in filling the vacancy.

In her testimony, Peggy Jo Faria, who lost by a single vote in her bid for Position 6, pointed out that she gained 49.87% support of the Ocean Shores electorate.

“Your recognition of half of the voters’ support is now the perfect opportunity for you all to do your part in mending the community by appointing me to the Ocean Shores City Council,” she said.

Susan Conniry, a former city council member, came up short in November in her bid for Position 3.

“To appoint anyone other than these two applicants is a slap in the faces to the very voters you promised to represent,” Conniry said.

“I encourage you to set aside personal likes, beliefs and bias, and appoint the person you know who is most qualified given their passion, extensive municipal experience, legislative advocacy and continued service to our community, and who, only three months ago, half the voters wanted to be on council,” she said.

But it was two elections newcomers who, when it came time for the council to choose, got the first two nods. Sitting Councilor Lisa Scott, who was randomly given the first crack at suggesting a candidate, chose Jane Shattuck, an active community organizer.

“I speak with the community a lot and the community speaks with me,” Shattuck told the council earlier that evening. “I take some of that and I talk to council members and I try and mediate and be just a middle ground between council and citizens so we can all reach the common goals that I think many of us have for the city.”

Councilor Rich Hartman gave his approval for Shattuck to join the council, but the nomination died without the support of Lisa Griebel, Alison Cline or Tom Taylor.

Three votes would have been a majority of the five councilors voting to fill the vacancy, despite there being six sitting councilors during Tuesday’s meeting. Prior to candidate testimony, the five voting members had asked Councilor Richard Wills to exclude himself from the process.

The statement followed an executive session that kicked off the meeting. Councilor Scott said the council wanted Wills to recuse himself because of a phone conversation he had in January with Ryan Griffiths, who at the time was an applicant for the vacant position but later withdrew. Griffiths emailed the city council and clerk on Jan. 23 announcing his withdrawal, stating that the application process was “severely compromised, biased, and the application materials have been handled without care or adherence to public records,” and that Wills had behaved unethically.

Griffiths said in the email that Wills told him via phone that Siers was ‘”beloved” and “Obama-like” and would likely have the support of the majority of the board. Griffiths said Wills also referred to his queer identity as a “lifestyle.”

According to Griffiths, Wills had encouraged him to pursue the city council post several months earlier. In an interview, Griffiths said he reached out to Wills because he was already considering withdrawing his application when he heard Siers was applying. A big reason he applied for the position was to represent the LGBTQ community, which he felt Siers would also do.

Griffiths said he “didn’t think it was advantageous to have multiple people in the process who share similar values.”

Wills later confirmed the contents of the email, but said it was “never my intent to demean or slight” Griffiths, who said on Wednesday he didn’t foresee the conversation resulting in Wills’ recusal.

The council unanimously said Wills’ behavior indicated a bias.

“It is this council’s opinion that Mr. Wills has seriously compromised this appointment process and has put us all under scrutiny with his actions,” Scott said. “Mr. Wills’ actions have had a negative impact on the candidates as it appears our decision has already been made.”

Wills said he agreed that recusing himself from the appointment decision “serves the best long-term interest of the city.”

“I apologize to Mr. Griffith. I’m sorry that we have a different understanding of what some words mean, but that’s life,” he said.

The remaining council members would make two more suggestions before Siers. Griebel, who followed Scott, suggested Mike Truxel, a former Idaho corrections officer, but no other councilor was on board. Taylor then nominated Faria to no avail.

It wasn’t until Hartman nominated Siers that Cline and Griebel approved the new councilor, with Scott and Taylor passing.

Contact reporter Clayton Franke at 406-552-3917 or