The Woodland City Council filled its last vacant seat with a new councilor who grew up in the community.
During a special meeting on March 13, the city council voted 5-1 to appoint Aaron Alderman to its position four seat. The council considered five candidates for the position, which was vacated by former councilor Karl Chapman in February.
“I grew up here and I love this town,” Alderman said.
He served in the Marine Corps and was deployed in Operation Desert Storm, he said. Alderman lived in Castle Rock for 23 years where he was involved with the Castle Rock Toutle Lake Baseball League for nearly a decade and the Toutle Fire Department.
Outside of the military, Alderman said he has worked as a logger. He returned to Woodland seven years ago and noted the city council position is his way to get involved with the community he grew up in.
“This is my first step,” Alderman said. “If you’re going to step, why not take a big one right off the bat.”
Though he said Woodland was a “wonderful place to grow up,” he acknowledged the changing nature of the city.
“You might as well have your head in the sand if you think (Woodland is) not going to grow. … It’s just a matter of growing it smart,” Alderman said.
Growth and infrastructure are the primary concerns Alderman sees for Woodland. He said issues with traffic have impacted the ability of officers in Woodland to do their jobs.
“Now we’re dealing with public safety and … that’s got to be paramount,” Alderman said.
During disagreements among councilmembers, Alderman said it’s important to have respect for one another in order to come up with a resolution.
“You get nowhere sitting here screaming at somebody,” Alderman said. “You have to respect the other person’s issues and where they’re coming from and how they feel about it.”
Alderman said councilors should keep in mind the work they do needs to focus on what’s best for the city.
“And if you’re not dealing with what’s best for the whole city, then you’re never going to get through a conflict or agree on anything,” Alderman said.
Alderman acknowledged the city’s problems won’t be solved overnight. He said he would like to work to find solutions and answers.
Douglas Freimarck, Gabriel Huston, Edward Linnett and Jennifer Wray-Keene applied for the position alongside Alderman.
“That was not an easy discussion, just because we have a lot of great candidates,” Councilor Terry Hall said. “Everyone brought something special that was important to us.”
Of the candidates, Wray-Keene has the most experience of working with the city in her position as the executive director of the Port of Woodland.
“I have heard that people think it’s a conflict of interest that I have applied,” Wray-Keene said. “I think we all have day jobs. My job, just by chance, is as a developer and a real estate broker and all of those things that go into being a port director. When people say it’s a conflict of interest, I don’t understand that.”
Wray-Keene said she is passionate about the community where she lives and works.
“Though I am the port director — I’m not hiding that — I am still a citizen of this community,” Wray-Keene said.
Though he didn’t mention an alternative candidate by name, Councilor Monte Smith said he considered another person for the position.
“I do like Mr. Alderman. I think he’s a great guy, but I think as far as long-range planning, I think we have somebody that might be more qualified,” Smith said.
He later added his “biggest concern was conflict of interest with one of the candidates.”
“I think that’s a big determining factor right now,” Smith said.
Smith ended up voting for Alderman. Councilor Melissa Doughty was the only councilor to vote against Alderman’s appointment.
Alderman is the second appointment to the council this year. On Feb. 13, the council voted 5-0 to appoint Hall to the position six seat.