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Heir apparent: North Bend's Duncan Wilson selected to replace Fitch

Duncan Wilson of North Bend has been selected to replace Friday Harbor Administrator King Fitch, who in September announced his pending resignation and is slated to leave his post at the end of June.   - Contributed photo
Duncan Wilson of North Bend has been selected to replace Friday Harbor Administrator King Fitch, who in September announced his pending resignation and is slated to leave his post at the end of June.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Sometimes things simply fall into place.

Just ask Friday Harbor Mayor Carrie Lacher.

Early Friday, Lacher announced that she selected Duncan Wilson, administrator of the city of North Bend, to replace long-time town Administrator King Fitch, who only two months ago handed in a letter of resignation and plans to leave the post he’s held for nearly 25 years at the end of June.

“I didn’t actually think it would be easy,” she said of finding someone to replace Fitch and manage the town. “The more I researched Duncan, and researched his background and his skills, the more I liked him.”

Lacher said she began looking for a replacement for Fitch almost immediately after receiving his resignation and decided early on that it would be a task she would try to accomplish on her own, as opposed to following the frequent path of forming a search committee.

She said she relied heavily on advice from town attorney Adina Cunnigham, however, while weighing the merits of about a dozen candidates who appeared qualified for the job.

“Duncan was the one who kept floating to the top,” she said.

An attorney with more than two decades of experience in municipal law, Wilson has been city administrator of North Bend for five years. Prior to that, he was the attorney and the deputy city manager of Covington. The population of North Bend is roughly twice that of Friday Harbor.

“He’s done an awful lot for us as a city,” North Bend Mayor Ken Hearing told the Valley Record, a sister paper of the Journal, about Wilson’s achievements.

Wilson counts among his accomplishments the acquisition of city water rights, ending the city’s 10-year building moratorium, annexations expanding the city, construction of the park and ride and beautification efforts on the city’s west side, adoption of a master plan for the city’s downtown, and creating the Transportation Benefit District that will levy a 0.2 percent sales tax for street improvements starting later this year.

Wilson expects challenges similar to North Bend’s when he starts his new role at Friday Harbor, but with a stronger focus on economic development for the tourist-dependent community.

Lacher said that she and Wilson have agreed on an employment contract, and that the town council will decide whether to endorse that agreement at its Dec. 15 meeting.

Pending the council’s endorsement on that contract, Wilson is expected to work alongside Fitch during the month of June before taking over management and the helm of the town in July.

“It took over a month for me to go through this… a lot of sleepless nights trying to decide what to do,” Wilson told the Valley Record about his decision to take on the Friday Harbor administrator position. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to escape to paradise.”

To read more about Wilson, read the Valley Record's "City Administrator Duncan Wilson leaving North Bend for Friday Harbor" at  http://www.valleyrecord.com/news/134923883.html.

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