Air Force retiree tapped for Sequim council seat

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

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SEQUIM — Dennis Smith, an Air Force retiree who has lived in Sequim for just over three years, will be sworn into office Monday to fill the seat vacated by Bill Huizinga in August.

The City Council voted 4-2 to select Smith, with two votes going to Eileen M. Cummings, who had some local government experience in Fairbanks, Alaska, before moving to Sequim.

“Mr. Smith, you go to Washington,” Mayor Ken Hays joked, welcoming Smith to the council.

Smith will be sworn in as a council member at
6 p.m. Monday during the regular City Council meeting at the Sequim Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St.

“It’s an honor and a privilege,” Smith said.

Smith said he was somewhat surprised by his selection, as he had been told by friends to not get his hopes up too high.

“They were good, strong candidates,” he said of the others who were interviewed Monday night.

“I’m sure all of them will go on to contribute to the city of Sequim,” he said.

The council interviewed four candidates — Smith, Cummings, Ronald D. Fairclough and Genaveve Starr — during a special council meeting.

A fifth candidate, Clifford A. Silliman, was notified Friday that he was not eligible because he did not live within the city limit.

Smith is a retired Washington Air National Guard squadron commander. He has a combined 32 years of service in the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard.

When asked about his greatest achievement during his career, Smith pointed to his post-9/11 task of expanding the Air Force’s 40 aircraft-tracking sensors in the western U.S.

The original sensors were designed to monitor threats from traditional enemy military aircraft approaching U.S. borders, Smith said.

Smith said he was a “major player” on the team that upgraded and expanded that sensor network to more than 100 sensors designed to monitor domestic aircraft so as to combat the threat of aircraft used in terrorism within the U.S.

In written answers to questions given to candidates, Smith mentioned the effort to build a new City Hall and the completion of the Olympic Discovery Trail as two areas of interest.

Others were “the repair of the paved infrastructure of Sequim and to look at ways to encourage the use of alternate means of transportation within the city.”

As a volunteer with the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, Smith is an operations section manager on the Emergency Management Division’s incident management team.

He has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma and a master’s in personnel management from Central Michigan University, Hawaii campus extension.

Smith said that at this time, he plans to run for re-election when his term expires in 2013.

Council members nominated candidates after a recess into executive session to discuss the candidates’ qualifications.

Councilman Don Hall nominated Smith, Councilwoman Laura Dubois nominated Cummings, and Councilman Ted Miller nominated Starr.

In the first round of voting, Smith received three votes, from Hall, Hays and Councilman Erik Erichsen, while Cummings received two votes, from Hays and Dubois, and Starr received one vote, from Miller.

On the second round of voting between Smith and Cummings, Miller changed his vote to Smith, and the other votes remained the same, resulting in Smith’s selection.

Cummings is a relatively new resident of Sequim, having moved to the area one year ago from Fairbanks, where she owns a real estate company.

She was a borough assembly member in Fairbanks and has worked with Head Start and tribal education programs.

Fairclough has been a Sequim resident since 1974 and is a former Boeing model maker and semi-retired dental technician.

He unsuccessfully challenged Dubois for her seat in 2011.

Starr, a Sequim resident since 1970, is a former program assistant with Peninsula College, freelance graphic artist and instructor of calligraphy.

Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at

Last modified: October 02. 2012 6:02PM
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