Who will be Glenwood’s next mayor? Councilors ready to decide Thursday evening
Following the swearing in of Glenwood Springs’ newly elected City Council members Thursday night, councilors themselves must then elect the city’s 53rd mayor.
Current Glenwood Springs Mayor Michael Gamba, who has served in that capacity since April of 2015, is stepping down due to term limits after eight years total on council.
That leaves the predominately ceremonial position of mayor up for grabs in Glenwood’s process of having the mayor’s seat appointed by the council, rather than elected by voters.
“The roles of the mayor are to run a meeting, work with staff to set an agenda, advocate for the community and to work with council and staff to drive a culture of effectiveness and efficiency,” Councilor Jonathan Godes said.
Councilors will elect the next mayor similar to how they approve a resolution or ordinance. A member of the council would nominate one of his or her fellow councilors and then another councilor would need to second that nomination in order for a vote to take place.
If the nominee receives at least four votes from the seven-member council, then Glenwood has its 53rd mayor.
However, in a city with over 10,000 people, not all councilors readily support electing of a mayor with four votes.
“I think the people ought to be electing the mayor,” Councilor Rick Voorhees said. “I think that would increase voter turnout, too, which is a big issue.”
Voorhees wants to hear other councilors’ thoughts at the Thursday morning pre-meeting on a “ranked-choice voting,” a method that Council could possibly utilize to elect the next mayor, he said.
According to Voorhees, the ranked-choice voting method would call for all seven councilors to select their first and second choice for mayor. A councilor’s first choice for mayor would amount to two votes, whereas their second pick would equal one vote.
“Then you put that altogether and the top two people would be the mayor and mayor pro tem,” Voorhees said of the ranked-choice voting idea.
In addition to electing Glenwood’s next mayor, councilors must also elect a mayor pro tem. The mayor pro tem assumes the mayor’s responsibilities in the event of his or her absence. Like Gamba, current Ward 3 Councilor and Mayor Pro Tem Todd Leahy was not able to seek re-election because of term limits.
“The method or number of votes will depend on the number of candidates for mayor,” Glenwood Springs City Attorney Karl Hanlon stated. “The only guidance the charter provides is that the mayor must be elected by a majority of Council. How the Council gets to that point is up to them.”
No sitting or incoming councilor has gone on the record saying that they were pursuing the mayoral position.
At large councilman-elect Tony Hershey said that he was not interested in the mayoral position. But when he votes for one of his fellow councilors to fill the role, he said his decision would center on someone who could run an orderly and efficient Council meeting.
“I just would like to get the lay of the land and understand the system better on how to be a good councilor,” Hershey said. “For me, I don’t think it is appropriate if you were just elected to be the mayor right out of the box.”
Ward 4 councilwoman-elect Paula Stepp said that she, too, was not interested in pursuing the mayoral position after just being elected.
“Five people, from what I understand, are very interested in this and that just shows enthusiasm for a direction they can take council,” Stepp said. “I hope that the things that I ran on will be a priority for that person — affordable housing, economic development and, as a result of what this election was, I really do think streets should be a forefront.”
In addition to electing three new City Council members, voters rejected a proposed 3/4-cent sales tax to pay for a $56 million street rebuilding and repair program.
Incoming councilors include Hershey, Stepp and Ward 3 councilman-elect Charlie Willman. The three will join re-elected Councilor Steve Davis as well as Godes, Voorhees and Councilor Shelley Kaup, who were not up for re-election.
Kaup said that she wanted the next mayor to have a strong vision for the city, with an emphasis on quality of life for its residents.
“Also, an experienced leader in the community with knowledge of city operations and issues,” Kaup said of her ideal mayoral candidate. “I would like to see a strong dedication to openness and transparency.”
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct information about voting.