The new town council has signaled an immediate change in direction, with a major change in the role of the vice mayor.
The council appointed council veteran Su Connell to the previously largely ceremonial post for a six-month term, with the understanding that the vice mayor will assume the responsibility of recommending people to serve on all the town's boards and commissions.
Previously, the mayor recommended all appointments to the council. That practice generated controversy during former Mayor Bob Edwards' term when he proposed the appointment of several outspoken opponents of the extension of Mud Springs Road to the town's Surface Transportation Advisory Committee.
Several council members then challenged putting so much of the appointment power in the mayor's hands, especially given the lack of duties for the vice mayor. However, after some vigorous discussion, the council decided to leave the matter to the new councilors.
The new system would not only give each council member an opportunity to serve as vice mayor in the course of a four-year term, but would spread out the appointment power, with each council member playing the lead role in appointments during his or her stint as vice mayor.
"It was the general sentiment in the community shared by different council members, that anyone elected to this council is certainly qualified to be vice mayor," said newly seated Mayor Kenny Evans. "Establishing a six-month term gives everyone a chance to serve."
The proposal provoked a little parliamentary shuffle, as Evans got used to wielding the procedural gavel handed over to him moments before by outgoing Mayor Bob Edwards.
Councilor John Wilson promptly nominated Connell to be the first to serve in the rotating post.
"Can I first have a motion that the term of office shall be six months?" interjected Evans.
"Ok," said Wilson.
But then Councilor Ed Blair offered a "friendly amendment" changing the term to four months. He noted that only a four-month term would give everyone a chance to serve in the course of a two-year council term.
"But the new members will serve four years," said Evans.
"Ok," said Blair, redoing the math. "So us old folks will serve six months," on the assumption that the councilors with only two years left to serve on their terms -- Blair, Connell and Mike Vogel -- will serve as vice mayor before the newbies -- Michael Hughes and Richard Croy.
All that settled, Wilson promptly re-nominated Connell.
"I second that nomination for the first vice mayor," said Blair.
"The first mayor of vice?" joked Evans.
"That would be appropriate," deadpanned Wilson, perhaps in reference to Connell's reputation as a promoter of charity and volunteerism in the community.
The council approved the appointment unanimously.
And when Evans prodded Connell for an "acceptance speech" she instead turned it into a promotion for the arrival on June 5 of the Vietnam Wall Memorial Tribute, accompanied by a daunting escort of perhaps 1,000 motorcycle riders down Main Street.
"It would be wonderful if every citizen -- man, woman, child and babies in the womb -- would turn out to welcome it," she said.
Payson Rotary will have 500 flags to hand out to people lining the route once the procession turns down Main Street.
"And it's our sincere hope that won't be enough flags," said Evans.