CITY OF OURAY: Filling council vacancies: Here's how it works...
By Sheridan Block
City council will appoint two new members during its regular meeting on Monday, Aug. 18. This will be the second time this year and the third time since last summer that council has had to fill vacancies on the board.
Six candidates are vying for the positions left open by the recent resignations of John Ferguson and Richard Kersen. Council hopefuls include real estate broker Carl Cockle, entrepreneur Eli Doose, business owner Dee Hilton, Ice Park manager Kevin Koprek, hotel owner Chad Leaver, and attorney Paul Sunderland, all of whom have submitted letters of interest.
With two seats open, there’s no clear process outlined in the city’s Home Rule Charter on how to fill vacancies. Article 2-5-C states that vacancies “shall be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining council members” and the person appointed “shall serve until the appointed term concludes.”
What makes this appointment situation unique is that each seat has a different term length. Ferguson’s seat offers a longer period on council and is set to expire in 2017; Kersen’s term will end in 2015.
City attorney Kathryn Sellars said the decision of whom to appoint to which seat is ultimately up to council. With two positions vacant, the three remaining on council — Mayor Pam Larson and councilors Glenn Boyd and Bette Maurer — will vote.
Larson explained that the process will include two separate action items for the two positions. Before council votes on the appointments, each candidate will be given a chance to present themselves to council and explain why they are applying for the position. Council will then ask each candidate between three and five predetermined questions along with any follow-up questions before openly deliberating and voting. She noted that in order to better determine whom to appoint to either seat, council will ask whether the candidates have a preference of the terms.
Each of the candidates has expressed to the Plaindealer a specific interest in...