The Lakewood City Council on Monday appointed City Attorney Heidi Ann Wachter to run Pierce Countys second-largest city on an interim basis until it hires a new city manager.
Wachter, 49, who will take over running the city next week, said shes not interested in applying for the permanent city managers job primarily due to family obligations.
Council members said Police Chief Bret Farrar has expressed interest in applying to become Lakewoods next city manager. He was not at Mondays meeting and not available for immediate comment.
Wachter will take over shortly before City Manager Andrew Neiditz officially resigns Feb. 23 to become the executive director South Sound 911, Pierce Countys new emergency dispatch agency. The council vote was unanimous.
Council members said Wachters familiarity with the issues facing Lakewood in her role as the citys top lawyer makes her a good choice.
She has insight on all the departments in the city and where they are going, Councilman Michael Brandstetter said.
Wachters appointment is effective Feb. 19 because Neiditz will be traveling out of state due to a commitment to the International City/County Management Association, for which he serves as regional vice president.
Neiditz has said it will take between two and three months to hire a new city manager. Last week, the council hired Bellevue-based The Prothman Company to lead the search for the third city manager in Lakewoods history. The firm is scheduled to make a presentation on next steps at next weeks council meeting.
Wachter has been Lakewoods city attorney since February 2002. She previously worked as an assistant city attorney in Tacoma and a deputy prosecuting attorney in Snohomish County.
Wachter was one of five members of Neiditzs executive team who the council considered for the appointment. The others were communications director Jeff Brewster; David Bugher, community development director and assistant city manager for development services; Farrar; and Choi Halladay, finance director and assistant city manager for administration.
Council members said Brewster, Farrar and Halladay indicated they werent interested in the interim appointment. Halladay said Monday that he has an open mind about applying for the permanent city manager job. Brewster was not available for comment.
Bugher said he is not interested, and council members agree he has enough on his plate without taking on additional responsibilities.
Newly appointed Councilwoman Helen McGovern said she doesnt see how Bugher can put one more oar in the water and keep the boat going in the same direction.
Monday was the first council meeting for McGovern, who was appointed last week to the seat vacated by former Mayor Doug Richardson following his election to the Pierce County Council.
Christian Hill: 253-274-7390