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Bremerton Council appoints new financial director, amid concerns over qualifications

Kitsap County Treasurer Barbara Stephenson was confirmed on a 6-3 vote by the Bremerton City Council on Wednesday to the city's Director of Financial Services post, after an insistence by some council members that she was not qualified for the job.

Council members Will Maupin, Nick Wofford and Cecil McConnell voted against Stephenson's appointment.

Despite Stephenson's seven years as county treasurer and experience as a bank executive, Maupin and McConnell said she did not have the prerequisite four-year college degree for the post, according to the city's job description.

Mayor Patty Lent said that while Stephenson may not have a four-year bachelor's degree, her years in banking training - including three years at the Pacific Coast Banking School, partnered with the University of Washington's Graduate School of Business - gives her Master's degree-equivalent education.

McConnell said that while he was impressed with Stephenson's resume, her lack of a bachelor's degree and municipal finance experience prevented him from supporting her.

"She would be a trainee coming in," he said.

Council members Carol Arends, Greg Wheeler, Dianne Robinson and Jim McDonald and two members of the public spoke on Stephenson's behalf.

Arends said that the well-oiled machine at the county treasurer's office is an indication of Stephenson's quality management skills that she would take to the city.

Stephenson was selected by Lent to take over for former finance director Andy Parks, who was fired Jan. 1. She is in the last year of her second term and planned to run for a third until she was approached by Lent to take over the financial services department.

She was appointed with a starting salary of almost $123,000, which is less than Parks' starting salary of $126,000.

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