City holds council training

New leaders take seats April 22

A Cortez police dispatch operator takes a call Thursday as future city council members toured the police station after a two-hour orientation session with municipal department heads. Enlargephoto

Tobie Baker/The Cortez Journal

A Cortez police dispatch operator takes a call Thursday as future city council members toured the police station after a two-hour orientation session with municipal department heads.

At a municipal orientation session last week, the future city council nailed down its procedures to select the next mayor.

The seven city council members will be sworn into office on April 22. After taking their seats, the new municipal leaders will make open nominations for mayor. If more than one nomination is received, the council members will vote by secret ballot. The person receiving the most votes will be tapped as mayor. The same process will decide the next mayor pro-tem.

Returning council members Tom Butler, Bob Archibeque, Karen Sheek, and newly appointed council member and former Mayor Orly Lucero have each indicated they’d be open to serve as the city’s top leader.

“There are lots of strong candidates,” City Manager Shane Hale said.

City staff requested council members to decide a procedure in order to make the process as smooth as possible.

“We just want to be prepared,” City Clerk Linda Smith said.

At the orientation meeting on Thursday, April 10, outgoing Mayor Pro-tem Matt Keefauver told the new city council they should heed the advice of city staff.

“Listening to city staff if of utmost importance,” he said. “Meet with the staff to learn what’s going on in the city.”

When he took office eight years ago, Keefauver said he wished he’d realized the importance of legacy projects approved before his election. He then challenged future municipal leaders to think long term.

“Consider your impact and what’s going to happen down the road,” Keefauver said.

Keefauver’s final words of wisdom were to be mindful of the city’s diverse neighborhoods, and to pick their battles when contentious issues arise.

“Focus your energy on what you want your legacy to be,” he said.

Hale also warned future leaders to be mindful of quasi-judicial issues, those impacting only a select few. Hale said all decisions should be based on evidence, not emotion.

Because of a lack of qualifying candidates, the city’s April 8 election was canceled. Returning council members Shawna McLaughlin, Ty Keel and new council member Jim Price round out the seven-member body.

Council members are paid $400 per month.

tbaker@cortezjournal.com