With the Cottonwood City Council deadlocked on making the Rough Cut building the new City Hall, the appointment process for filling the vacancy on the council should prove most interesting.
This past week, council members could not reach consensus on spending as much as $50,000 to determine just how much it will cost to convert the Northern Arizona Healthcare property into a city hall.
The price tag for the Rough Cut building as is currently stands at $2 million. How much additional to convert the building’s interior into a functional city hall is anyone’s guess.
Not only are council members evenly split on the Rough Cut purchase, but there does not seem to be much chance of a compromise coming from either side. Mayor Tim Elinski has championed the idea of the Rough Cut building being the next city hall for months now, and he seems to have two strong colleagues in freshmen council members Doug Hulse and Michael Mathews, who Tuesday went so far as to say, “I feel very strongly 20 years from now, if we don’t do this we’re going to regret it.”
Former mayor Ruben Jauregui, Vice Mayor Tosca Henry and Council Member Deb Althouse are not sold on the idea, nor are they convinced the city can afford it.
“I for one don’t think (Rough Cut) is the appropriate place to have our city hall and I think I’ve said this before,” said Jauregui.
All of which makes the upcoming appointment to the council – prompted by the resignation of Kyla Allen – precarious for both the council and those seeking the appointment.
Finding consensus on who will be the newest member of the council might be about as difficult as coming to agreement on Rough Cut.
The best move for council members is to avoid the Rough Cut issue altogether when interviewing those seeking appointment to the city council. Council members need to come to agreement on a set list of questions for those seeking the post that will provide insight on political and community growth philosophies vs. specific stands on an issue such as the need for a new city hall.
Short of that, the candidates who seek this council seat should take a page from the playbook of U.S. Supreme Court nominees. Those candidates typically will speak in general terms about the challenges they expect in the job, but stay clearly away from taking positions on specific issues such as abortion rights.
“Until I have all the facts and evidence in front of me, I cannot speak on that issue,” is typical of the responses given by Supreme Court nominees when questions deal with specific cases the court ultimately will hear.
The danger currently facing both city council members and the next person to join their ranks is that this appointment process could become a single-focus issue concerning the new city hall.
The wise move for all involved is to not let that happen. Refuse to go there.
The council’s job in making this appointment is to find the very best person for the job.
It’s not about which side is going to win the war over a new city hall.