MONTROSE – Montrose resident David Romero was elected by the Montrose City Council Tuesday evening to represent the city's first district, following the departure of Councilor Thomas Smits.
Smits is moving out of the first district.
Romero was selected from an applicant pool including Rae Frank and Doug Glaspell, in a unanimous vote.
The first vote was a tie, with two votes for Glaspell and two for Romero. Council then opted to retire to a nearby conference room with city attorney Stephen Alcorn for about 11 minutes, returning to vote unanimously for Romero.
Before the vote Montrose county resident and former city councilor Jose Abeyta told council he had heard through the "rumor mill" that council would select Smits' replacement in a "secret vote."
"I did not find where a secret ballot is allowed by the charter," Abeyta said.
Councilors appoint members of the public through a majority voting process in which each one writes down the name of his or her choice a name on a paper ballot; the ballots are counted by the clerk, after each vote.
Abeyta asked that each councilors' ballot to be made public following the vote. "The community has a right to know who you voted for," he told the council.
Alcorn responded that council has always "done a secret ballot," and that there "is some real value in having a vote" for a specific candidate remain unrecorded.
Alcorn further advised the council to either opt for an "open style" meeting, or continue to keep individual votes secret. Councilors had voted to keep their ballots secret before the first vote Tuesday.
During public comment resident Carol Davis voiced her support for Frank.
"When I think of Rae Frank I think of one word – solid," Davis said.
Moments later Davis’s husband Steve took the podium to describe Frank as "hardworking and engaging," in the two men’s work together on the Bear Creek subdivision's homeowners association.
"I'm not here to argue with my wife," Steve Davis said, in an aside.
Abeyta asked council to elect Romero, citing Romero's experience in criminal justice, working with the Seventh Judicial District.
"His experience in criminal justice has prepared him for this. I think he's open, I think he is a team player," Abeyta said, going on to deplore a lack of diversity on the council, calling for representation from the local Latin American community.
"I think that perspective is heavily needed to the decision-making of the city," Abeyta said.
Smits was congratulated by fellow council members at the beginning of the meeting, and Mayor Judy Ann Files read a proclamation in his honor.
"We are so sorry you’re leaving us,” Files said. “I hope this move is good for you.”
Councilor Bob Nicholson said possibly Smits' best accomplishment during his term was the hiring of current City Manager Bill Bell.
"Frankly, I think that has been a great decision," Nicholson said. "Thomas has done a lot of things, but that one really stood out.
Files also read a proclamation from Gov. John Hickenlooper congratulating Montrose on receiving All America City honors last week, in Denver, and officially proclaiming Aug. 22 as All America City day in Colorado.
The City of Montrose is preparing for Aug. 22 celebrations during its weekly Main in Motion event on Main Street.
Council was also scheduled to vote to approve the city's purchase of a downtown building,at 33 S. Cascade Ave. Director of Innovation and Citizen Engagement Virgil Turner said the contract to purchase the building has been revised, and that owners Albert Moreland Jr. and Edward Moreland had not met the city's deadline of Monday to send the revised contract to the city.
"Apparently there is some competition with the city for the property, so they are not willing to sign the contract," Tuner said.
The scheduling change has moved the start time of the Aug. 20 council meeting from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. Visit www.cityofmontrose.org for more information.