Town Appointments Now Peaceful Topic

Payson council names slew of citizens to committees, without

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How things change.

The Payson Town Council last week quietly approved the consent agenda appointment of Shirley Dye to serve on the town’s Surface Transportation Advisory Board.

The action topped a long list of appointments, which mostly demonstrated naming people to town commissions has largely lost its political edge.

Dye once spearheaded the opposition to the proposed extension of Mud Springs Road to connect with Highway 260, which for a time dominated town politics and spurred repeated angry public meetings.

The attempt by then-mayor Bob Edwards to appoint another critic of the Mud Springs extension — Joannie King — prompted a contentious council meeting in which the council majority rejected King’s appointment, on the grounds she could not be objective on the Mud Springs extension.

The extension ultimately became an issue in the mayoral race, with some voters praising Edwards’ tenacious effort to block the extension and others criticizing his continued efforts to block the project even after a council majority approved it.

After Edwards lost his re-election bid, the town council changed the system for making appointments. Instead of giving the mayor the responsibility for nominating commissioners, the council gave the vice mayor that task and agreed to switch vice mayors annually.

The Mud Springs issue also shifted when the town’s budget crisis subsequently forced the indefinite postponement of all new road construction — including the million-dollar extension of Mud Springs, taking the heat out of the issue.

Dye’s appointment to STAB capped a slew of appointments and reappointments to the various boards and commissions.

The bulk of those appointments extended the terms of already serving commissioners. By and large, the appointments involved people first nominated by former Mayor Edwards, suggesting the sometimes bitter divide acted out in debates about appointments has largely evaporated.

Of course, the town’s long list of boards and commissions have been much less busy in the past year, due to the collapse of the housing market, which all but eliminated applications for new developments in the past year. Many of the citizen review groups, like the planning commission, design review board, housing advisory board and the traffic board normally spend most of their time reviewing new construction projects.

Other appointments approved on the council’s consent agenda include:

• Appointment of architect Bernie Lieder as chairman and Barbara Underwood as vice chair of the design review board.

• Appointment of Ken Volz as chair and Minette Richardson as vice chair of the Green Valley Redevelopment Area Committee.

• Appointment of Brush Hopkins as chair and Mike Foil as vice chair of the Housing Advisory Committee.

• Appointment of Mel Sorensen as chair and David Rutter as vice chair of the Parks and Recreation Board.

• Appointment of Russell Goddard as chair and Joel Mona as vice chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

• Appointment of Tom Loeffler as chair and Bruce Van Camp as vice chair of the Surface Transportation Advisory Board.

Loeffler’s reappointment means he’ll be a busy citizen in the coming year, since he also won appointment to the Gila Community College Board.

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