Council set to fill seat
By Benjamin Graham, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
January 15, 2013
Town officials will begin interviewing candidates to replace council member Melissa Turley in an open meeting tomorrow morning.
Sitting council members will question each of the 11 candidates for 15 minutes in a public meeting. Last week, the council informally agreed to go into a closed session to discuss the applicants and their merits.
Council members could appoint a replacement the same day, but they could also decide they need more time.
The position pays $25,000 a year. Town councilors also receive life and health insurance coverage, among other benefits.
Newly elected council members Hailey Morton and Jim Stanford said they will put some weight on whether a candidate ran in the 2012 election.
“One thing that’s a very important consideration for me, having just been through the election process, is having run for office,” Stanford said.
“You made the effort to go out and meet with voters and listen to voters,” he said. “You’ve been vetted by the public. It’s no small undertaking.”
Eight candidates, including current applicants Phil Cameron, Emy diGrappa and Kelly Egan, vied for the two open seats last year.
Morton has a similar view, saying that those who ran in the last town election have a perspective that others in the applicant pool may not.
Still, she plans to go into the interviews with an open mind.
“It’s always hard to judge someone on paper,” Morton said.
Council member Bob Lenz said he is interested in hearing candidates’ views on current town problems. He will also ask why they decided to apply.
“I’m looking for motivation and for vision,” Lenz said.
The empty seat has drawn interest from a diverse group of Jacksonites. Applicants’ backgrounds range from ski-boot fitting to chairing the Wyoming Democratic Committee.
The candidates are Cameron, Lisa Carranza, Chandler Church, diGrappa, Egan, Don Frank, Mike Gierau, Stephen McDonald, Mark Nowlin, John Stennis and Jon Stuart.
The appointee will serve out the remainder of Turley’s term, which ends January 2015. Last year, Turley was elected to a spot on the county commission.
The town council hasn’t faced a decision like this in more than a decade.
“I think we will make a decision as soon as we can,” Lenz said. “We won’t know until we’ve done the interviews.”