New, Fresh Face Joins Star Valley Council



Andy Towle/Roundup -

Stephanie Whetten

The Star Valley Town Council is becoming rather proficient in swearing in new council members.

For the second time in 90 days, the council selected a new member, in this case Stephanie Whetten, after a former councilor resigned for personal reasons.

Most recently, Nathalie Stroup resigned on accusations that Town Manager Tim Grier was unfairly treating former town clerk Sarah Luckie. Luckie was put on 90-day suspension reportedly for an inability to perform her job adequately. Instead of waiting out the suspension, Luckie resigned in June and Stroup quickly followed suit because she said she could not sit back and watch her sister humiliated.

Before Stroup’s resignation, the council was shook up when then-mayor Chuck Heron resigned for health and family reasons. Bill Rappaport was named mayor and Del Newland vice mayor. This left an open council seat, which was filled by Vern Leis.

Three applicants applied for Stroup’s seat — Realtor and former pilot Stephanie Whetten, KRIM owner Steven Bingham and controller Joanne Conlin.

Before Tuesday’s council meeting, Conlin dropped out of the running, Grier said.

Whetten said she is new to the political scene, but is willingly to do anything to support the town.

“I take the responsibilities very seriously,” she said.

Rappaport commented that Whetten is very bright and one of the first people he and his wife met when they moved to Star Valley.

Bingham, also a member of Star Valley’s planning and zoning commission, told the council he wanted to join to “be a part of the action.”

Citing the general plan, which is still under review after two years, the town’s surplus of several million and recent acquisition of hundreds of acres of Forest Service land, Bingham said the town is growing and needs direction.

“Six hundred forty acres will be given to us and you better be damn sure what you are going to do with it,” he said.

Rappaport said Bingham was instrumental in Star Valley becoming a town, so it was a tough decision between two qualified candidates.

After the applicants spoke, each councilor wrote his or her choice down on a slip of paper, which Town Clerk Stephanie Jones read into the record.

Whetten unanimously beat out Bingham for Stroup’s seat.

Whetten will serve out the remaining term, ending in March 2010, when a general election is held. At that time, she could choose to run and, if elected, fill the seat for two years.

Leis said he voted for Whetten because she was the better of the two candidates.

“I think she added a new, fresh view since she is not already serving on anything.


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