Gamba selected as Glenwood’s 52nd mayor |

Gamba selected as Glenwood’s 52nd mayor

Kathryn Trauger
John Stroud | Post Independent

Michael Gamba, who was re-elected last week to a second term on Glenwood Springs City Council, will serve as the city’s mayor for the next two years. He becomes the 52nd mayor of Glenwood.

Gamba won the appointment from his fellow council members in a 4-3 vote over second-term Councilman Stephen Bershenyi in the largely ceremonial mayoral decision.

Unlike most Colorado municipalities that elect their mayor by popular vote, the Glenwood Springs Council, under the city charter, appoints one of its seven members every two years to serve in the capacity as mayor.

“I am honored and humbled to be selected by my fellow council members to serve as mayor,” Gamba said following the Thursday City Council meeting, where two new members, Kathryn Trauger and Steve Davis, were sworn in to serve for the next four years.

Trauger won the three-way race for the At-large council seat in the April 7 city election over Tony Hershey and Kathy Williams, while Davis won the Ward 1 seat over former one-term council member Russ Arensman.

“The next four years are going to be pretty critical for the city of Glenwood Springs,” said Gamba, who represents Ward 4. “I do take this seat with the recognition that the primary purpose is to run the meetings. I have no more power or control than any other council member up here.”

Also sworn in for a second term was Ward 3 Councilman Todd Leahy, who like Gamba was not opposed for re-election.

Leahy won the appointment to serve as mayor pro-tem, or “vice mayor” as some referred to it, in the event of Gamba’s absence.

“This is the first time since I’ve been a part of this council that we’ve come to this (transitional) meeting not sure where this was going to go,” noted the outgoing mayor, Ward 5 Councilman Leo McKinney.

In prior years, the mayoral nominations had been discussed between council members in advance with some consensus going in as to who would get the seat.

“Honestly, I have to say there has to be a better way to do this,” said McKinney, who has suggested in the past that the city should consider floating a charter amendment to make the mayor’s seat an elected one.

“At least there hasn’t been any wrangling behind the scenes this time,” he said.

It’s an internal decision that does make for some awkward maneuvering when it comes to placing nominations on the table.

Ward 2 Councilman Matt Steckler started the process Thursday by nominating Bershenyi, who holds the council’s other At-large seat.

“I think Stephen is well-positioned to be the next mayor, and represents the values and heart of this community,” Steckler said.

Bershenyi’s nomination was seconded by McKinney, who said he was honoring a pledge he made two years ago to support Bershenyi for the mayor’s seat. Bershenyi, in turn, re-nominated McKinney for mayor, which Steckler seconded.

Leahy then put Gamba’s name into nomination.

“This can be a little awkward,” he admitted.

“I’ve grown to like and respect Stephen … and I appreciate that being mayor takes a lot of extra time,” Leahy said.

However, he said Gamba “works well with my talents, and has the talents we need during this time.”

Trauger seconded the nomination, which Gamba accepted with some hesitancy.

However, “It’s something I’m willing to do,” he agreed. “I agree with Todd that we are at a crossroads, and we all bring our talents. We’ve often had our disagreements, and that has resulted in debates that many times have changed my view on things.”

When the paper ballots were tallied, Leahy, Trauger and Davis supported Gamba, and Gamba also voted for himself, while Bershenyi supported his nomination, as did McKinney and Steckler. The same 4-3 split also supported Leahy for mayor pro-tem.

Among the first matters for the newly seated City Council, as discussed during the morning pre-meeting Thursday, will be to deal with a series of draft inter-governmental agreements with the Colorado Department of Transportation regarding the Grand Avenue Bridge replacement project.

A special meeting with CDOT is tentatively set for April 23.

The various bridge-related agreements deal with such things as terms for the city’s pledged $3 million for the project, a joint use agreement for the new bridge right of way, commitments regarding certain historical design elements, and an operation, maintenance and liability agreement for the new pedestrian bridge and Seventh Street elevator.

Also in the works will be a facilitated City Council retreat and goal-setting session, which will likely take up the better part of a day sometime in May.

City Manager Jeff Hecksel said the goal-setting portion of that meeting is important as the city enters the 2016 budget-planning process during the summer months.

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