Westminster city councilors wanted to delay a decision about who will sit on a bevy of Westminster advisory boards and committees after strategic planning, they said Jan. 10. But, the move changed course.
Westminster City Council tabled a resolution to reappoint board members at the Jan. 10 city council meeting, contrary to historic actions, on a 5-2 vote with only councilors Obi Ezeadi and Sarah Nurmela dissenting.
Councilor Bruce Baker said the decision to reappoint the members should come after the strategic planning retreat, which is Jan. 29 and Jan. 30, to give the members an opportunity to see if they align with the plan.
Though, Mayor Pro Tem DeMott asked for the item to be put back on the Jan. 24 city council agenda and said he anticipates council approving it.
“Has this been communicated to all members as to why we would be tabling this today, because I know many are expecting for the full resolution to pass tonight,” City Councilor Ezeadi said at the meeting.
The resolution would have reappointed members appointed new and alternate members to the Election Commission, Environmental Advisory Board, Historic Landmark Board, Human Services Board, Inclusivity Board, Parks, Recreation, Libraries, and Open Space Advisory Board, Personnel Board, Planning Commission, and Special Permit and License Board, respectively.
“I don’t want this last-minute call to cause any undo fear or resentment from our current board members,” Ezeadi said.
Usually, members are reappointed and then willingly resign if they choose to do so.
“(This was) first time in the last two years that I’ve served that it wasn’t just an automatic reappointment,” said City Councilor Rich Seymour.
Seymour said that the mayor and most of the council agreed that due to the turnover from November’s election, having the strategic planning meeting early made sense. In order to align the boards and commissions, it would be best to hold off the appointment of the members, he said.
Westminster’s strategic planning meeting usually occurs in the late summer or fall.
DeMott said debating issues is important, but wants to align the boards with the strategic plan.
“I think disagreement is constructive. As long as it’s done with the goal of `we all want a good outcome for the community,’” he said. “So I think that once we get to the strategic plan, aligning with our boards and commissions makes sense to me.”
Seymour said he would not replace the board members `wholesale’ and there were not any specific boards he saw better fits.
Councilor Ezeadi heard many complaints about not reappointing the boards.
“I have received many calls from angry residents that see this action as a political act of censorship,” he said. “These existing members are residents that devoted their time to help build a better Westminster. And knowing that we have a hard time finding people who actually want to serve on our boards, we should be doing everything in our power to show our appreciation and gratitude for our new and existing members.”
Carol Campbell, a resident of Westminster, said she thinks the council’s intentions are contrary to what they have said.
“What they want is a rubber stamp. They want people that are thinking exactly like them,” she said.
As a former environmental advisory board member, she said she has never seen a board sway council in either way.
“They work for us, the city, people that live here,” Campbell said. “They are supposed to represent the thoughts and interests, of what the people want, not what the council necessarily wants.”
Councilor Nurmela thinks it is important for the board members to serve throughout different administrations.
“The intent of many of these boards is to advise Council, to challenge us based on their knowledge, not necessarily to follow our lead. As a result, these positions should carry through different administrations,” she said.