NORTH OGDEN -- The city council has chosen Dave Hulme to fill Brent Taylor's spot on the council for the next year, but not without controversy.
Taylor has been deployed to Afghanistan for nine months to one year with the Army National Guard.
The temporary replacement was made possible by a new state law allowing for a council seat to be filled temporarily if a council member is deployed with the military. Taylor is the first council member to be deployed since the legislation passed.
Mayor Richard Harris explained the process, saying that of the eight people who applied, six were interviewed for the seat. By law, no secret ballots were to be cast, and everything was to be done in the open.
With that, Harris asked Taylor to make the motion to nominate his successor. Taylor motioned for Hulme to succeed him, but Councilman Wade Bigler immediately said he didn't agree that Taylor should automatically be able to make the motion.
"I don't mean to be disagreeable, but what North Ogden City Council member gets to choose their replacement?" Bigler said.
The mayor had sent an email to council members before the meeting saying he planned to ask Taylor for the motion, but Bigler said he felt it was manipulating the process and that Taylor should have nothing to do with his replacement.
"I was honest and aboveboard," Harris said.
"I withdraw my motion, so it doesn't become an issue," Taylor said, then encouraged Bigler to make the motion.
Bigler remained silent, and after a few moments, Councilwoman Martha Harris motioned for Hulme to be the replacement. She added that because Taylor's seat was only an interim position to which he was coming back, it made sense that he could be part of the process.
Bigler insisted the process had been tainted, but the mayor said it hadn't.
State Rep. Ryan Wilcox, who helped write the legislation, was at the meeting and said the city followed the law correctly.
"I'm not an attorney, but I didn't see anything that night that was out of step with the intended legislation," he said in a recent phone interview.
He said he thinks Taylor went above and beyond to rectify any controversy by withdrawing his motion.
"I was shocked it was brought up," Wilcox said in reference to Bigler's claim.
He said he thought it was respectful that the mayor asked Taylor to make the motion. "It was a nice gesture."
Hulme has lived in North Ogden for the past nine years and has seldom missed a city council meeting during that time.
He currently sits on the planning commission as its director. For that reason, Councilman Ron Flamm was the only vote dissenting for Hulme to be on the council.
"I like the job he is doing there, so I am going to vote no," Flamm said, as Hulme can't hold both positions at once.
Hulme ran for city council two years ago and four years ago. He said he is honored to serve on the council now.
"I have pretty big shoes to fill. I am honored to take the place of someone who is serving their country. I hope I can do a good job," he said.
Aaron Farr, who also applied for the position, said it may be "sour grapes," but he also thinks the council acted inappropriately in the way it appointed Hulme.