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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

New Pleasanton councilwoman brings planning skills to job

Pleasanton's new councilwoman, Kimberly Herring, was appointed to the post on Feb. 21 by Mayor Mike Frisbie. The city council unanimously approved her appointment. (Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)

PLEASANTON – Those in the Pleasanton City Council chamber seemed stunned on Tuesday, Feb. 21, when Pleasanton Mayor Mike Frisbie first attempted to appoint Kimberly “Kim” Herring to fill the vacant seat on the city council at the beginning of the meeting.

Someone in the back of the room said in a clear, loud voice above the more muffled conversations, “Who's that?”

As the mayor looked around the room and didn’t see his appointee there, the vote of the council was delayed until she could arrive.

Herring herself wasn’t expecting the announcement. In an interview on Monday, the long-time Pleasanton resident said she hadn’t been notified about Frisbie’s appointment until Councilwoman Rochelle Schreckhise sent her text urging her to come to the meeting as soon as she could.

Once she arrived at the meeting midway through the council’s agenda, accompanied by her 6-year-old daughter Molly, the mayor again asked the council to approve his nomination.

But Councilman Jake Mattingley had a question first. He asked if she thought that her employment as the jail administrator would create a conflict of interest for her as a councilwoman. Satisfied with her answer that it wouldn’t, Mattingley and the other four council members voted to accept her nomination to the post.

Raised about 10 miles away in Foster, Mo., until her family moved to Pleasanton when she was 5 years old, Herring graduated from Pleasanton High School. She said she grew up, went to school with, or was a neighbor to all of the current council members.

When she was growing up, her grandmother ran the flower shop and the ceramics studio on Main Street. And her uncle ran a printing company on Main as well.

“It’s home,” she said about the city, adding that since she was a girl she has always lived in Pleasanton, went to school in Pleasanton, now owns a house in the city, and her daughter goes to school in Pleasanton.

Working as the jail administrator has helped train her for her new role as councilwoman. As the administrator, Herring runs schedules for the staff, oversees handling of inmates, orders supplies, oversees meal preparation in the kitchen, arranges for medical treatment of prisoners and schedules transportation when needed.

She said she was recruited six years ago to work as a jailer by the late Paul Filla, who was county sheriff when he retired. However, within about a year she had proved herself and was promoted to jail administrator, a position she loves.

She said that even though the number of prisoners has more than doubled from when the jail was in the building next to the courthouse, her job has been made somewhat easier because overflow prisoners are not kept in jail in other counties. That included arranging prisoner transportation for counties as far away as Pittsburg.

No more starting to transport prisoners at 3 a.m. in the morning to meet what she called the “rocket docket,” when court hearings were scheduled on just one day or a day and half every week.

She said her job, with the help of Sheriff Kevin Friend, has taught her to be a reader, a researcher and a planner. Those are skills that are needed on the council.

With that experience in mind, when she learned that the council was looking to appoint a replacement for former Councilman Joe Whitaker who resigned late last year, she contacted the mayor about the job.

“I’ve said on many occasions that more people should be involved in public service, whether it be as mayor, councilperson, legislator or whatever,” said the mayor in a written statement on Monday. “It’s not an elite class, but government by the people.

“It requires integrity and caring (among other things). It gives one the opportunity to see things from a different perspective. There are many citizens of Pleasanton more than qualified to serve, and Kimberly Herring is one of them.

“Kimberly Herring grew up in Pleasanton. Her family lives here. She cares about this community. She is well known in the community. She does a great job as administrator of the county jail. I think she’ll do an equally great job for the city.”

As a new member of the council Herring has two main priorities – fix the streets and fix the city swimming pool – but there are other issue that also need attention as well, she said.

“We have to do something,” she said about the streets. “People’s cars are getting torn up.”

What’s more, drivers are steering onto people’s lawns to avoid the potholes in the pavement, she said.

It is equally important to get the pool in good shape to give residents a place to hang out on hot days, she said. She remember how much spending summer afternoons at the pool meant to her as a child. She also pointed out that kids used to have more options in the city to keep them busy and worried that without that they would be more likely to get into trouble.

While she realizes that more businesses are moving out by the U.S. Highway 169 interchange, Herring believes that revitalizing Main Street should be part of a plan to draw businesses to the city. That includes a restaurant serving sit-down dinners.

Herring emphasized the importance of making a plan and then following it.

“I want to know we have a plan for the next five years or 10 years and how it’s going to benefit us,” she said.

She also thinks that major decisions should be made with care.

“I will not vote on something unless I have time to research it and I have the facts,” she added.

Herring is expected to take her seat with the council at its next meeting on Monday, March 6.

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