NORTH OGDEN - The mayor's appointment of a new public works director drew a protest petition by residents who wanted the action delayed until after the next mayor takes office.
Mayor Richard Harris appointed Craig Giles to the position and the city council concurred on a 4-1 vote, council member Wade Bigler the dissenter. Giles has been employed in public works in Summit County.
At the beginning of the Tuesday meeting, Julie Brown approached the mayor and council asking the mayor to postpone the appointment until a new mayor was in office in January.
"This is a decision they should be to help and be a part of," Brown said. She added that she and many other residents would like to see Scott Felter be selected for the job. Felter has worked in the city's public works department for 30 years.
Brown had a petition with 77 signatures requesting that the appointment be delayed until a new mayor is in office. Brown paid high praise to both Felter and the retiring public works director, Mel Blanchard.
She said she thinks Felter would be the best choice because he has been such a big part of the city. "Scott's signature is on every corner of this city," she said.
Former Mayor Gary Harrop and others also gave their support to Brown's idea. It was suggested that Giles be given a period of time to prove his worth before he is given a bigger salary to see if he can do what the city needs him to do.
Harris told the residents that he feels confident with his ability to appoint the director.
"I'm still the mayor and I will be for another three months and two weeks," he said. He then went over his qualifications to be able to select a qualified candidate. He also pointed out that there were six people on the committee to select a public works director - City Councilmen Kent Bailey and Brent Taylor, Human Resources Director Annette Spendlove, City Manager Ron Chandler and Harris.
He explained that 18 people applied. From there the field was narrowed to six and then a careful process screened each of the six with main qualifications ranging from education to experience to awards and honors.
Taylor said he respected the process, although he didn't necessarily agree with the outcome. He did vote in favor of the mayor's appointment because he did respect the process. He was a part of the committee and saw how the process worked, he said.
Bigler didn't vote for the appointment. He wanted to see the documentation and the discussion had by the committee before he made his decision.
Bigler said he had never questioned the panel's decision before when a department head was appointed, but this time was different.
"When I got the email I was quite shocked," Bigler said. He said he thinks because the city already had a 30-year employee vying for the job, that should have carried more weight.
The mayor and Bailey explained that the documentation and the discussion about the issue was not available for outside viewing without a court order.
"State law protects the proceedings of such a committee," Bailey said. He added that getting a court order is not a simple thing to do.
"The state respects the integrity (of the committee) to keep it away from politicizing," Bailey said of the appointment.
The mayor and all city council members, as well as many residents, paid high praise the retiring Blanchard, who has worked for the city for more than 30 years.
Blanchard requested there be no plaques or special ceremonies, Harris said. "I personally want to thank him and know the rest of the council feels the same," he said.