Special election needed to fill Parker council vacancy

Parker Town Council did not appoint an interim councilmember Oct. 21

Nick Puckett
npuckett@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 10/22/20

The Town of Parker will hold a special election in early 2021 to fill the vacancy left on town council. Parker Town Council met Oct. 21 to entertain a motion to appoint an interim councilmember. None …

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Special election needed to fill Parker council vacancy

Parker Town Council did not appoint an interim councilmember Oct. 21

Posted

The Town of Parker will hold a special election in early 2021 to fill the vacancy left on town council.

Parker Town Council met Oct. 21 to entertain a motion to appoint an interim councilmember. None of the remaining five councilmembers nominated an appointee, leaving the vacant sixth seat up for a special election. The meeting ended in one minute.

The sixth council seat became vacant following the resignation of Renee Williams, made official Sept. 21. Town council had until Oct. 21 to appoint an interim replacement. Now, the matter will be voted on in a special election, likely in the spring.

Mayor Mike Waid, who did not have a vote in the matter, attempted to organize discussions among council for the past month to appoint a new councilmember, he said Oct. 22.

The day of the official vacancy, Sept. 21, Waid made a formal request of council to provide him with three names of people they felt would make a good councilmember, Waid said. The names would remain confidential. The request was meant as a starting point for discussion, and two councilmembers felt Waid's request was not appropriate and chose not to submit names to him, Waid said. 

Waid did not disclose the names of the town councilmembers, but the Parker Chronicle confirmed the two councilmembers Waid referred to were John Diak and Jeff Toborg. 

Council discussed potential appointees during study sessions and informally between meetings.

Councilmember Cheryl Poage opposed appointing any councilmember. Toborg stated the discussions regarding potential appointees provided “no room to negotiate” on an appointee.

“Everybody had their own opinion on who should be appointed and where that background should come from,” Poage said.

Toborg and Diak instead wanted to discuss procedures to establish qualifications for whom to choose. At that point, Waid said, he was no longer involved in the discussion.

Waid said, to his understanding, seven names were brought up by the remaining three councilmembers. Some of those names, Waid said, seemed to have the support of the needed four councilmembers to make an appointment. 

In a previous town council meeting, Poage made clear she favored staging a special election, based on about 50 emails she said she received from constituents saying the seat and the two years left on Williams' term were too important to leave in the hands of five councilmembers.

“I felt, truly, the people had the right to decide for this long of a term,” Poage said. “I really felt they had to come up with their own decision.”

Town council wanted to appoint someone who is not currently running for town council in the Nov. 3 election. A dozen candidates, including one incumbent, Diak, are vying for three at-large seats. The unreleased list of seven names consisted of former councilmembers as well as current members of some town boards and commissions, Waid said. 

“That was the pool they were looking at so that an appointee would not only have a deep understanding of the town but also have experience in working with staff and town operations,” Waid said.

Parker's municipal code states the town council must call a special election to fill the seat if an appointment is not made within 30 days of the official vacancy. A special election date must be called within 90 days of the vacancy, which is Dec. 20, and must be held “as soon as practicable."

Staff may hold off on calling a date for the special election until after the Nov. 3 general election. One outcome of the mayoral race could leave a second town council seat vacant.

A special election would cost more than $50,000, town staff estimate.

Town council has operated with a vacancy since Williams resigned, citing health and personal reasons. Town staff gave council an approximate time frame for staging a special election, which, with the added possibility of a second seat opening following the Nov. 3 election, may not take place until March. Colorado Municipal Election Code states a special election may not be held within 32 days of a regular primary, general or congressional vacancy election, unless it is a coordinated election.

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