COOLIDGE — Although council appointed a member to serve as vice mayor for the next two years, the selection process left one council member pushing for change.
During Monday’s Coolidge City Council meeting, Councilwoman Jacque Hendrie-Henry was re-appointed to serve in the position of vice mayor for a third time.
Henry was initially appointed to serve in the position in 2014, and then re-appointed in 2016. Now, she will go on to serve as the Vice Mayor for another two years.
But not everyone was in agreement with the decision.
Henry was reappointed in a 6-1 vote, with Councilman Steve Hudson dissenting.
Like Henry, Hudson was nominated by fellow council members to serve as vice mayor. However, he rescinded his name from the nominations, taking a moment to highlight his dissatisfaction with the appointment process.
“I would like to say that I would like to look at a different way of picking the vice mayor,” Hudson told fellow council members. “To vote and elect a vice mayor on friendship instead of merit, seniority or capability of an individual I think is wrong.”
According to Hudson, in the past the vice mayor was determined through the election process. At one point in Coolidge’s history, he noted, the council member that got the most votes in the election was automatically elected vice mayor.
He stressed the need to re-evaluate Coolidge’s appointment process, arguing that the current procedure is unfair to the citizens.
“To sit there and elect somebody year after year or (on) a two-year period based on total friendship I think is wrong to the citizens of Coolidge and the employees of Coolidge,” he said.
Hudson’s claim did not sit well with Councilman Jimmy Walker, who seconded Henry’s nomination.
“I feel offended because I’m not doing it based just on friendship,” Walker said. “There’s reasons that I voted the way I did. It’s not just based on friendship and I take offense to that.”
Mayor Jon Thompson proposed revising the council’s appointment procedure to potentially reflect the process the City of Casa Grande uses for future appointments.
In Casa Grande, it was discussed, the vice mayor is appointed through a rotation, providing each member with an opportunity to serve.
“I’m not sure I’m completely familiar with it, but I know (in Casa Grande) they rotate every year,” City Attorney Denis Fitzgibbons said. “I think they start with seniority and then work their way through the council. But it’s not voted on.”
Council will re-examine the policy at a later date.