VANCOUVER -- More than 100 residents waited four hours Tuesday night to voice their concerns over a recent Clark County hire, the testimony going past midnight.
Republicans David Madore and Tom Mielke said they bypassed typical hiring practices because they needed to fill the position quickly and it was unlikely a better candidate could be found.
They gave the job to fellow Republican and state Senator Don Benton for the environmental services director job without interviewing any other candidates.
"You need to re-post the opening, rescind your hiring, and apologize to Benton for hiring in error,” citizen Liz Campbell told the commissioners Tuesday night.
On Tuesday, with an angry crowd gathering, Madore and Mielke outvoted their colleague Steve Stuart, a Democrat, to switch the public testimony about Benton to the end of the meeting.
That fired up the standing room only crowd even more. They said the commissioners were just stalling, hoping people would leave. But about 100 people stayed until a little after 10:00 pm to begin their testimony.
Stuart said he’s going to file an ethics claim against the two Republicans for discussing changing the meeting agenda before the meeting happened. That’s a violation of the public meeting act, he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, about 100 people gathered outside the county building to protest, but also advocate for Benton.
“It was a back door deal, it was a dirty deal and they need to be questioned about,” argued citizen Gary Cotton.
“I think he's a qualified man to do this job and he will do a good job and if not, he won’t be there long,” said Rep. Paul Harris (R-Vancouver).
Before the hearing Madore said, “the decision had already been made. Benton started Monday.”