GJ City Council votes 3-2 to appoint, rather than hold election to fill its vacancies | PostIndependent.com

GJ City Council votes 3-2 to appoint, rather than hold election to fill its vacancies

Sharon Sullivan

City seeks letters of interest for At-large City Council position

The city will accept resumes and letters of interest for the at-large city council position until 5 p.m., Friday, Aug. 16. The seat became vacant with the July 22 resignation of city council member Rick Brainard.

The successful candidate will serve until the next regular election in April 2015.

To be eligible for this appointment, applicants must:

1) Live within Grand Junction city limits

2) Have resided in Grand Junction for at least 12 consecutive months

3) Be a registered Grand Junction voter

To determine if you live inside the City limits, follow this link — http://bit.ly/rNS9Cc — and enter your address in the box at the top.

Letters of interest and resumes are to be submitted to the city clerk at 250 N. 5th St., Grand Junction, CO, 81501. Applicants should make sure to include contact information. The City Clerk’s office is open between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and can be reached at 970-244-1509 for more information. City Council will review the applications and determine the next steps for the selection.

Grand Junction City Council held a special meeting Tuesday to decide how to proceed in filling two seats on city council — positions left vacant from the death of Harry Butler and the resignation earlier this week of Rick Brainard.

At a July 10 meeting, the former council of six deadlocked on the appointment to replace Butler. The process was started over with the city inviting interested candidates to apply again. Three of the four — Duncan McArthur, Teresa Black and Les Miller reapplied, and a fourth — a new applicant, Barbara Traylor Smith, also applied for the District E seat.

With Monday’s resignation of Brainard, the council must now replace two members.

On Tuesday, the council voted 3 to 2 in favor of appointing, rather than holding an election to replace the two councilors.

Councilors Jim Doody and Bennett Boeschenstein both requested an election to fill the District E and the community at-large seats.

“I hope we can do it in an open manner, in the same way we were elected,” Boeschenstein said. “That’s the way we should fill these vacancies.”

Doody echoed the sentiment, saying: “In light of all that has transpired, I’d like to see this go to election by the people.”

The two men were outnumbered, however, by Mayor Sam Susuras and Councilors Phyllis Norris and Martin Chazen who voted to appoint the two new council members.

“We need to fill these as soon as we can and then move on with city business. We were elected to make decisions and solve problems. This is a problem,” Chazen said.

Susuras said with a current council of five, three is a majority, thus, an appointment to replace Butler could proceed as planned.

In light of “past practice” of four members constituting a majority, City Attorney John Shaver advised council that they needed to adopt a rule allowing three to make up a majority — for this process only,

Doody and Boeschenstein voted against the subsequent motion, in hopes of retaining the four-vote majority necessary for the appointment of a new councilor.

The conflict that has plagued the new council since the election was apparent when Doody suddenly walked out of the meeting after briefly addressing Chazen regarding alleged pressure by Chazen on Brainard to vote in lockstep with Susuras, Norris and Chazen.

Boeschenstein reiterated his position several times that, given the dissension in the community, it would be better to have an election of the city council candidates.

A recall campaign was underway to remove Brainard, who days after his election in April was arrested for domestic assault. Brainard refused to resign at the time.

“I would like a general election — we could combine the two (seats) and save some money,” Boeschenstein said.

Susuras appeared open to the idea of having an election for the seventh member who will represent the community at-large, until Norris said she didn’t feel the need to go to ballot for either council seat.

Chazen agreed with Norris, and Susuras then said, “I guess I’d like to save the money. I will go along with the other two members.”

Candidates vying for the District E seat will meet with council July 29 informally at 5 p.m. followed by a formal question and answer period at 6 p.m.

The city will release details at a later date regarding the at-large vacancy.

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