McArthur fills Butler post on City Council

Duncan McArthur is sworn onto the City Council by Grand Junction City Clerk Stephanie Tuin at City Hall on Monday night after being voted by other council members, 3-1, to fill a vacancy. McArthur is filling the District E seat that was vacated upon the death of Harry Butler.

In a second try at being picked as a replacement, Duncan McArthur became Grand Junction’s newest City Council member Monday.

After 95 minutes of questions and answers from the council and the public, and without much deliberation from four of the five remaining council members, the panel voted 3-1 to select McArthur to fill the District E seat left vacant by the June death of Harry Butler.

The same three council members who voted for McArthur earlier this month — Mayor Sam Susuras and councilors Marty Chazen and Phyllis Norris — again cast their votes for McArthur just as they had during the first attempt to find a replacement. That vote resulted in a 3-3 deadlock between McArthur and council candidate Les Miller, who also reapplied for the opening.

That tie was broken last week when Councilor Rick Brainard tendered his resignation. Brainard and council members Jim Doody and Bennett Boeschenstein had favored Miller in the first round.

Despite his apparent shoo-in, McArthur said he hadn’t taken it for granted that he would win the appointment.

“I hate to be presumptuous because you never know what the council’s feelings are going to be,” he said. “No, I didn’t think it was a foregone conclusion. I was just as nervous as I was the first day.”

Boeschenstein again cast his vote for Miller; Doody did not attend the special meeting set to select a replacement.

Last week, Doody left the council meeting after it decided, on a 3-2 vote, that it would go ahead with the appointment for Butler’s district and the at-large seat left vacant by Brainard’s resignation rather than call for a special election.

Doody and Boeschenstein also objected to the council’s decision to declare that it only needed three votes to select a replacement for what is a seven-member board. Normally, four would constitute a majority.

Boeschenstein repeated those objections on Monday.

“At the last meeting, you may recall I thought these positions should be filled by general election, not by appointment,” he told the rest of the council. “I was outvoted; however, I still feel these positions should have been filled through an election by the people, not by an appointment by us.”

Susuras and Norris, however, said the city’s charter is clear on how such vacancies are to be filled.

“It would be much, much easier to just spend $50,000 and say, ‘Voters, you decide for me,’ ” Norris said. “But my responsibility is to do what this charter has told us to do, and that is to fill this vacancy.”

The four council members listened as McArthur, Miller and two other candidates, Theresa Black and Barbara Traylor Smith, answered questions. Black attended via an Internet connection because she is out of town fulfilling her Colorado Air National Guard obligation.

The four answered questions ranging from the role a city council should take to how capital construction projects should be funded to what budget priorities the city should have.

But while all four council members said the choice between the four would be a hard one because each were excellent choices, they made their picks with no discussion or deliberation.

While the question-and-answer period took more than an hour and a half, the voting took only five minutes.

Still, the candidates who did not win the seat will have another chance to get on the board. That’s because the council is accepting applications to replace Brainard’s at-large seat.

McArthur encouraged each to apply again, but wouldn’t say which of the remaining three he would support.

“They’re all good candidates,” he said. “I don’t want to be predisposed on who I’d vote for. If they all participate in the interview process for the at-large seat, I’d wait to hear what their responses are at that.”


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