The Westminster City Council is back up to its full seven-member complement after appointing two replacements at their Jan. 28 meeting. Councilors selected Michele Haney, president at Red Rocks …
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The Westminster City Council is back up to its full seven-member complement after appointing two replacements at their Jan. 28 meeting.
Councilors selected Michele Haney, president at Red Rocks Community College, to replace Shannon Bird. Bird resigned early in January after winning a seat in the Colorado House of Representatives.
Councilors also picked Jon Voelz, a former legislative aide for the Colorado General Assembly. He will replace Emma Pinter, who resigned after winning a seat on the Adams County Commission.
Haney’s seat is up for election this coming November. Voelz’ seat on the council continues until 2021.
They join Sheela Mahnke as the newest members of the council. Councilors selected her in December to replace former councilor Maria DeCambra, who took a job in Governor Jared Polis’ administration after he won election in November.
Councilors had good things to say about the process that saw them narrow a field of 71 candidates down to three new City Councilors.
“This is not going to be an easy decision for this council,” Councilor Anita Seitz said before councilors began the selection process. “I was blown away by the leadership, the talent, dedication and passion of the applicants. Many communicated their love for the city in a way that was truly inspirational.”
The work began December, in the wake of November’s election. DeCambra announced resignation effective Dec. 3 and councilors began advertising immediately for her replacement. Both Bird and Pinter, who had won new seats — Bird in the State House of Representatives and Pinter on the Adams County Commissioners — did not resign until they were ready to take their oaths of office in January.
More than 60 residents filled out an application to fill De Cambra’s chair, and councilors interviewed 45 candidates over 16 hours on Dec. 13-16. The eventually selected Thornton pediatrician Mahnke to fill the empty chair.
Of that first batch of applicants, 21 updated their applications and they and another 11 new applicants stepped forward. Councilors reviewed their applications and selected 18 candidates to come in Jan. 17 and 24. Haney was among the group interviewed on Jan. 17, Voelz on Jan. 24.
“Obviously we can only appoint two, but remember that you do not need to be a councilor to be a city leader,” Seitz said.
Councilors David DeMott, who had called for a special election to fill all three open seats, said.
“I believe a special election would have been a good thing and a small cost for democracy,” DeMott said. “However I do appreciate the dialogue and opposing views as part of the fabric of our republic and democracy. We’ve had great dialogues throughout the process and I thank my colleagues for very much working through disagreements and at the end, we’ve come up with the best process we could have in this short month-and-a-half.”
Each councilor selected one candidate from the list of 18 they’d interviewed, first for Bird’s replacement and later for Pinter’s. Councilors voted in rounds, dropping the candidates with the fewest votes until reaching a council majority.
Mayor Herb Atchison and Councilor Kathryn Skulley both selected Haney in the first round of voting for Bird’s replacement. DeMott selected Michael Deedon, Mahnke selected Doug Kenney and Seitz selected Carol Campbell.
In the second round of voting, Seitz changed her vote to support Doug Kenney and both Campbell and Deedon were dropped from the balloting. In the final round, DeMott changed his vote to support Haney, giving her the three councilor majority and awarding her the seat.
For Pinter’s seat, DeMott favored Rich Seymour and Mahnke favored Carol Campbell. However, Atchison, Seitz and Skulley all selected Voelz, giving him the majority in the first round of voting.
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