The contentious Ghost of Christmas Past rose up at last night’s Payson council meeting to prove that politics still can claim its victims when it comes time to appoint citizens to committees.
The council tossed two prominent appointees from the Bob Edwards’ era, despite the supposedly soothing effects of having shifted the job of nominating appointees from the mayor to the vice mayor.
The council’s action forced Gary Bedsworth off the planning commission and Tom Loeffler off the Traffic Advisory Board (TAB).
Instead, the council approved the appointment of Gordon Metcalf to TAB and Clark Jones to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The council effectively ousted Loeffler despite his 22 years experience as a top highway department official in Wisconsin and strong support for him by other TAB members.
Loeffler, who also serves on the Gila Community College Board of Directors, ran unsuccessfully for council on a slate along with then-mayor Bob Edwards two years ago.
Ironically, two years ago, Edwards ousted Metcalf from TAB in the midst of the struggle over the extension of Mud Springs Road that for a time dominated town politics.
Payson Vice Mayor Mike Vogel said Loeffler had submitted a letter saying he didn’t want to be reappointed, then rescinded the letter. But by then, Vogel had already promised Metcalf the job.
“(Loeffler) submitted a letter saying he was not interested in being reappointed. I don’t want to hear about it. That’s the end of it.
“He rescinded (the letter), but (the position) was filled. I support Tom. He’s done an excellent job. But the same rules apply to everybody.”
Jim Hippel, a TAB member, pleaded with the council to overrule Vogel’s recommendation and reappoint Loeffler. He even offered to resign his seat if the council would promise to instead reappoint Loeffler.
Mayor Kenny Evans said the council could make no promises or even discuss Hippel’s offer to resign his seat to open a new slot for Loeffler since it had not been put on the agenda for that meeting.
Hippel said “Tom has done a phenomenal job on the board. The board members along with myself recommend Tom be reappointed.”
Meanwhile, Vogel’s recommendation to replace Bedsworth with Clark on the planning commission also spurred debate.
Councilor Ed Blair, challenged Vogel to offer a single example of mistakes or bad judgment on Bedsworth’s part. Blair insisted Bedsworth has been diligent and thorough, visiting the site of every development considered by the commission and accumulating a near perfect attendance record.
Vogel said he had compared the experience of both Bedsworth and Clark, but had deliberately not considered Bedsworth’s three years on the planning commission.
“One has experience in town, one doesn’t,” Vogel said. “I looked at them both. I prefer Mr. Jones. I have history with one. I have recent history with the second.”
On the vote to replace Bedsworth with Clark, the council voted 6-1 with Blair dissenting. The vote to replace Loeffler with Metcalf was 7-0.