VIDEO: City Council Discusses NRCDC Board Composition, Part Five

Read Part One

Before Salida City Council member Steve Stewart could nominate his slate of mostly non-City-residents for the expanded Natural Resource Center Development Corporation (NRCDC) board, fellow Council member Keith Baker had to make a motion to allow anyone from Chaffee County to serve on the NRCDC board.  That motion was passed by the Council, with only Council member Mike Bowers voting “nay.”

Mayor Don Stephens also wanted some additional housekeeping done — namely, clarifying whether incumbent Council members Tom Yerkey and Keith Baker, and incumbent County resident Tim Glenn, would remain on the board.  That motion was put forward, by Mr. Yerkey himself, in the name of “continuity.”  The Council voted unanimously to maintain those three incumbents, and to remove City administrator Dara MacDonald from her current board position, making her instead the NRCDC’s “administrator”.  We did not hear any clarification about whether Ms. MacDonald would be paid a salary for that position — and if so, who would pay her salary.

That left four positions open on the newly expanded NRCDC board.  Council member Steve Stewart then suggested a “slate” of four candidates for those four seats:  County residents Jim Miller, Ray Kitson, and Walt Harder, and City resident Susan Dempsey Hughes.  Mr. Yerkey seconded the motion.  Mr. Baker then assured the Council he agreed with the proposed slate.

But Council member Mike Bowers strongly objected to Mr. Stewart’s “slate” approach and suggested that the five Council members present should, instead, each vote independently on the seven candidates, and that the votes be tallied.  Mr. Bowers also hinted that perhaps Mr. Stewart’s “slate” had been agreed upon by certain Council members prior to this evening’s meeting.

For many of us in the audience, the writing was already on the wall — inscribed earlier in the discussion when Mr. Baker had first proposed that the published Resolution 2013-14 ought to be amended to allow an unlimited number of non-City residents to sit on the NRCDC board.

Nevertheless, Council member Stewart eventually withdrew his “slate” proposal and agreed to Mr. Bower’s suggestion that each Council member vote his own conscience.

Perhaps it was not too remarkable that the four persons elected by the vote tally were the very persons Mr. Stewart had named in his “slate” motion: County residents Jim Miller, Ray Kitson, and Walt Harder, and City resident Susan Dempsey Hughes.

The two highest vote getters — Susan Dempsey Hughes and Jim Miller — will serve two-year terms and the other two new board members — Ray Kitson and Walt Harder — will serve one-year terms.

Except that the board can be reformulated at any time, by a future City Council.  Salida will hold a Council election this coming November; the mayor’s seat and three Council seats will be up for grabs.  Considering how “out of touch” with popular opinion the Council sometimes appears to be, we might be surprised if the NRCDC board composition still looks the same… a year from now.

Bill Hudson

Bill Hudson spent a pleasant 18 months living in downtown Salida, during which time he did his best to understand the inhabitants and their motivations. He then escaped back to Pagosa Springs to resume his work at