OURAY – The Ouray City Council has two new faces among its ranks. Ouray residents Dee Hilton and Carl Cockle were appointed to fill a 3.5 year council vacancy and a 1.5 year council vacancy, respectively, on Monday evening, Aug. 18.
They were two of six community members vying for a chance to fill the vacancies, created by the recent resignations of Councilors John Ferguson and Richard Kersen.
At Monday’s council meeting, each applicant made a brief presentation and answered an identical slate of questions posed by Mayor Pam Larson. The questions touched on a variety of issues, including how the applicants felt about the city’s recently adopted strategic plan, what they thought should be council’s biggest priorities, and how well they understood the roles of council and administration in city operations.
Following the presentations, Councilor Glenn Boyd made the motion to appoint Hilton to fill the 3.5 year vacancy created by Ferguson’s resignation.
“I am looking for someone that fits well with the current council…and is willing to come in with open dialogue and continue moving forward,” Boyd said, adding that he felt it was important to appoint someone “citizens have spoken out for, not against.”
Mayor Pam Larson seconded Boyd’s motion, and it passed unanimously.
Councilor Bette Maurer then made a successful motion to appoint Cockle, a Ouray native and broker/owner of Ouray County Properties, to the 1.5 year vacancy. “There has been a lot of talk a lot about change,” Maurer said, “but I don’t know that change is our number-one item.”
Maurer said that for her, it was more important to appoint someone who doesn’t “have an agenda when you come here, because we have to work together, and we put aside our differences as much as we can to become spokesmen for the city.”
Larson, in her support of the two successful applicants, said that for her, it was important to appoint people to council who represent the same diversity that Kersen, a conservative, and Ferguson, a progressive, brought to the table. “Sometimes it is hard to tell how that will pan out,” she acknowledged. “But one thing is very obvious, there is a lot of passion among the six who applied.”
Larson thanked the remaining four applicants – Paul Sunderland, Chad Leaver, Kevin Koprek and Eli Doose – for their willingness to serve, and encouraged them to remain involved in city government in other capacities.
“It is exceptional that all six of you put your names in,” she said. “I really appreciate the fact that you are willing to step up to the plate.”
Hilton and Cockle will be sworn in by Judge Westfall and become members of the Ouray City Council at the Sept. 2 council meeting.
Hilton, the owner of the Wildflower Boutique, has been in business in Ouray for 11 years and has a background in retirement community administration. Among her qualifications for council, she said she is inquisitive, optimistic, a good communicator, and “has a good feeling for the pulse of Main Street.”
“I have a passion for what the city is doing, and a positive opinion of Ouray,” she said.
While other applicants stressed the need to maintain and improve the city’s infrastructure, Hilton focused more on the importance of its other assets – including its parks, trails, and the Hot Springs Pool. “Striking a balance between people with off-road vehicles and those who like quiet, and maintaining that balance, is one of biggest challenges we will have,” Hilton predicted.
Cockle has 15 years of prior experience working with the City of Ouray’s Public Works department, where he was involved in building city facilities including the Ouray Hot Springs Pool filtration system and geothermal lines, and the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
He stressed his thorough hands-on and historical knowledge of the city, as well as his five years as a Ouray County Planning Commissioner, as important qualifications for the role of city councilor.
“Some folks say I am from the old guard and will not deal with change,” Cockle said. “That is totally wrong. I am more pro-growth than most of you in here. We all want to see Ouray prosper and change in a positive way. If we don’t, we are at a dead end.”
Cockle has run for public office twice in Ouray in recent years. In 2011, he challenged Bob Risch for the position of mayor, and in 2013, he was one of a slate of five candidates running for two open seats on the Ouray City Council. This was his third time to apply for a council vacancy.
John Ferguson Honored
At Monday’s meeting, Mayor Pam Larson presented former councilman John Ferguson with a plaque of appreciation for his four years of service to the city. Ferguson resigned from his post last month. Councilman Richard Kersen will be honored at the next council meeting in September.
Work Session on Ballot Language Set for Aug. 25
Council will hold a work session next Monday, Aug. 25 at 5 p.m. to discuss setting ballot language in the upcoming fall election for a retail marijuana sales tax question, and for the “de-Brucing” of city property taxes.
Electrical Vehicle Charging Station
The City of Ouray now boasts a two-unit electric vehicle charging station, adjacent to the Ouray Hot Springs Pool filtration building. The project was partially funded by a grant from the Colorado Energy Office, which covered the cost of the unit itself, plus installation and construction costs. The city paid for the remainder of the project, including electrical work, signage, site prep, security lights, and complying with ADA requirements, at an additional cost of $4,500. Funds came out of the City’s Parks Fund. One of the terms of the grant is that the city must provide electricity free of charge to users for the first three years after the charging station’s installation.
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