Madam Mayor Sheek takes city reins

With a 4-3 vote by secret ballot, Cortez City Councilwoman Karen Sheek was tapped as the new mayor on Tuesday.

The selection process started with open suggestions on Tuesday, April 22. Councilwoman Shawna McLaughlin nominated Sheek, and Councilmember Ty Keel proposed former Mayor Orly Lucero for the city’s top post. All seven council members then penned their choice on pieces of paper, which were read aloud by City Attorney Mike Green.

On two separate occasions during Tuesday’s regular meeting at City Hall, Councilmember Bob Archibeque referred to Sheek as “Mr. Mayor,” a habit formed over the past four years of referencing outgoing Mayor Dan Porter.

“I’m sorry,” Archibeuqe told Sheek. “What do I call her?”

“She can be called Madam Mayor or Your Honor,” advised City Manager Shane Hale.

“I’m sorry Madam Mayor,” Archibeque said, shaking his head.

The same selection procedure, again by a 4-3 margin, decided that Keel, nominated by Archibeque, would serve as the new mayor pro-tem over McLaughlin, who was nominated by Sheek.

Lucero declined a nomination from new Councilman Jim Price to serve as second in charge.

Before new council leaders took their oath of office Tuesday, more than three dozen community members celebrated eight years of service by Porter and outgoing Mayor Pro-tem Matt Keafauver.

Both were instrumental in establishing renewal energy projects for the city during a challenging economic downtown.

“Both of these gentlemen played a role in moving our city forward,” Sheek said. “They have left a rich legacy, and our city has benefited from their service.”

Appreciative of the recognition, Porter said without assistance from city personnel and other council members, current city finances would not be better today.

“We came through an economic downturn, and I’m pleased with the way things look right now,” Porter said.

Porter and Keefauver campaigned together to be elected to consecutive four-year terms on the city council.

Keefauver was also thankful he was able to serve the city.

“This has been the most incredible experience,” he said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the new council members approved:

A conditional use permit to convert an existing garage into a dwelling unit at 506 N. Sligo.

A site development plan to install an Airstream catering trailer at 1401 E. Main Street (next to Big R).

A site development plan to construct an 8,320 square-foot Family Dollar Store on a vacant lot at 420 S. Broadway (between Sonic and the football field).

A new 20-year lease for a hangar at the Cortez Municipal Airport.

A new independent contract agreement with Chris Burkett that includes an pay rate of $39.34 per hour.

Amending an ordinance that makes unauthorized dumping in municipal trash receptacles a criminal offense.

Amending an ordinance to reduce noise pollution by outlawing truckers from using “jake brakes.”

A letter of support for a Paths of Mesa Verde grant project.

A letter to state leaders regarding new Federal Aviation Administration rules for pilots.

A modification of premises to remodel the interior of Medicine Man (a medical marijuana facility) at 310 E. Main Street.

The appointment of Daniel Giannone to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Jim Price, Orly Lucero, Shawna McLaughlin and Bob Archibeque take their oath of office Tuesday as the part of the new Cortez city council. Enlargephoto

Tobie Baker/Cortez Journal

Jim Price, Orly Lucero, Shawna McLaughlin and Bob Archibeque take their oath of office Tuesday as the part of the new Cortez city council.