Nikki Check steps in as new mayor of Jerome

Kinsella lauded for years of service to town

JEROME - In a brief and cheerful meeting Tuesday night, the Town Council took the oath of office for a new two-year term and elected a new mayor. Town Magistrate Joan Dwyer administered the oath of office to the four incumbents and one newcomer on the Jerome Town Council. The council will serve for two years, and then all five seats will come up for reelection at the same time.

Four incumbents - Lew Currier, Anne Bassett, Nikki Check and Bill Phinney -- were sworn in along with newly elected Randall Hunt. In a unanimous vote immediately following the swearing-in ceremony, Nikki Check was nominated for and voted in as mayor. Lew Currier was unanimously voted in as Vice Mayor.

"Thank you all," Check said after being elected as mayor. "I really feel like this is going to be a great council."

Mayor Jay Kinsella had decided not to run for re-election.

It is traditional in Jerome, where the mayor is not elected as a separate office in the election process, for the council candidate who receives the most votes to be nominated for and voted in as mayor by the new council. Check received the most votes during the primary election in March when all council members were elected outright.

Because all council candidates won their seats during the primary, the new council was seated May 29 instead of at the end of June.

Outgoing Mayor Kinsella spoke briefly before the swearing-in ceremony.

"Thanks for giving me the opportunity to serve you guys," he said. "It's been an incredible ride."

Kinsella said that he had thought of a lot of things to say, but that he decided the night was not about him. "It's about the five people on the council," he said.

He then made some presentations of his own before turning things over to the new mayor. He presented plaques to council members Anne Bassett, and Lew Currier for their years of service to Jerome. He also presented plaques to relatively new council members Bill Phinney and Nikki Check for their commitment to the town when they stepped up to fill vacant council seats.

Kinsella also recognized Town Manager Candace Gallagher, Fire Chief Rusty Blair and Police Chief Allen Muma. He pointed out that Muma is only two months shy of having been with the Jerome Police Department for 13 years.

"The first time I was on the council," Kinsella said, "we had some difficult times. We had problems with our police department."

He explained that a town must rely on a good police department to prosper. He said that the department turned around after Muma took over.

"Our police department is a great police department for the town of Jerome," Kinsella said.

Check then made a presentation to Kinsella.

"Thank you for everything you've done for the town," she said. But then she said it was premature to thank him for "everything he's done" for the town. "Because you'll continue to serve in many ways."

In the final action of the meeting, the new council confirmed the continuing employment of Town Manager Candace Gallagher, Police Chief Allen Muma and Fire Chief Rusty Blair.

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