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Thu, Nov. 21

Cottonwood prepares to replace councilor

Cottonwood Attorney Steve Horton explains aspects of the appointment process for a replacement city councilor at Tuesday’s meeting. Councilor Deb Althouse resigned last week, and a series of meetings has been set up in the weeks ahead to move  forward in the replacement process. VVN/Jason W. Brooks

Cottonwood Attorney Steve Horton explains aspects of the appointment process for a replacement city councilor at Tuesday’s meeting. Councilor Deb Althouse resigned last week, and a series of meetings has been set up in the weeks ahead to move forward in the replacement process. VVN/Jason W. Brooks

COTTONWOOD — Moving ahead with its process of replacing a recently resigned city councilor, the Cottonwood Council already has at least one announced applicant for its vacancy.

After the Council discussed the timeline for replacing Deb Althouse, whose resignation it accepted at Tuesday’s regular meeting, a former councilor announced he’s seeking to return to the Council and to replace Althouse. Jesse Dowling, who served on the Council from 2011 to 2016 before he moved outside the city limits, spoke briefly at Tuesday’s meeting, pointing out that he now lives in Cottonwood again, and has been serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission.

There was sparse attendance for the portion of Tuesday’s meeting involving the Council vacancy; no one else at the meeting expressed interest in applying for the position.

Vice Mayor Tosca Henry, who ran Tuesday’s meeting in the absence of Mayor Tim Elinski, thanked Althouse for her three-plus years of service. Henry said Althouse, who wasn’t at Tuesday’s meeting, tried to curtail spending.

“I appreciate all the time and effort Deb put into curtailing city spending and her fiscally conservative approach, paying down our debt and building up our reserves,” Henry said. “I know she fought passionately for the causes she believed in, such as veteran well-being and motorcycle awareness.”

After the Council agreed on a timeline, Wednesday, City Clerk Marianne Jimenez produced a news release, emailed to the Verde Independent and others and posted to the city’s website, cottonwoodaz.gov. The release states applications for the Council vacancy can be obtained from the City Clerk’s office located at 824 North Main St., and completed applications, along with a résumé and letter of interest, must be returned to the City Clerk’s office by 5 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 21.

City Manager Ron Corbin said he’d like to have a replacement councilor seated by the Friday, Dec. 13 strategic planning retreat; Councilman Doug Hulse said he thinks extending the process much beyond that might create a disadvantage for any candidates who can’t attend that Dec. 13 planning retreat, which is open to the public.

After the Nov. 21 deadline for applications, special public meetings will be set for Monday, Nov. 25; Thursday, Dec. 5 and Tuesday, Dec. 10 to interview the applicants for the Council vacancy.

All Council members at Tuesday’s meeting agreed a Nov. 25 meeting, which is the same week as Thanksgiving, wouldn’t create any personal scheduling conflicts for councilors. Corbin pointed out that if a “small” nunber of candidates applies by Nov. 21, the three special meetings can be canceled after the deadline, and the application window can be reset, with more special meetings to be set for later dates.

The Council will interview candidates publicly and can deliberate in executive session to discuss the candidates, but will vote in public on its final choice.

One of the Councilors who will help choose who joins the team will be Jackie Narin, who was appointed unanimously to the Council in March. She was interviewed, along with Al Hilberger, Joyce Gonzalez and Michael Cosentino, after having run for Council twice in recent years.

The replacement must run in 2020 and win in order to retain the Council position, though the appointee is under no obligation to do so.

Cottonwood Attorney Steve Horton said Dowling’s need not resign from the Planning and Zoning Commission in order to apply for the Council vacancy. However, were the member of a statutory commission or committee be appointed to Council, that member would lose their place on that commission, and a replacement would be appointed.

In 2006, when Elinski, now the mayor, was chosen from among six interviewees to replace Ing Kiland, a replacement was appointed to fill Elinski’s position on the Planning and Zoning Commission.

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