Just as quick as one Rim Country Educational Alliance SLE board member resigned last week, the Star Valley Town Council put the kibosh on replacing her with a new member.
At Star Valley’s Tuesday meeting, the council was expected to approve James Scott Scheidt as Suzanne Cummins’ replacement on the five-member board working to bring a four-year university to Payson.
Cummins resigned from her post Dec. 15 after board chair Mike Vogel asked her to step down.
Cummins said she felt uneasy serving on a board where she was kept in the dark on negotiations with Arizona State University and the identity of donors pledging millions to the project.
While Cummins said she believed in the project and hoped it would happen, she could not act as a “funnel” for Payson Mayor Kenny Evans and investors when she did not understand what she was funneling.
Cummins was originally recommended to the board by the Scottsdale-based Winners Deve-lopment Group, which represents the bulk of the investors and has played a role in developing plans for the campus and various spin-off facilities, in consultation with ASU.
The Star Valley council approved Cummins’ nomination. Star Valley joined with Payson to form the SLE and appoints half of its members.
While Star Valley has the power to appoint three members, it plays no other role in negotiations.
As with Cummins, Star Valley was given Scheidt’s name and asked to appoint him.
The Star Valley council balked at being given only one option, especially one with close ties to Payson.
Scheidt has served on Payson’s Planning and Zoning Commission since 2001 and worked on Evans’ special committee in 2008.
Scheidt also worked as a senior building official, community development block grant director and building inspector in Santa Paula, Calif. before moving to Payson.
“We are supposed to represent our end of it and this guy is from Payson,” said Councilor Gary Coon. “So, I think there is a conflict of interest and I would not propose this person.”
Several people Coon spoke with also gave Scheidt a poor recommendation.
Councilor Paty Henderson said she was also dismayed to get only one option, especially when several people in Star Valley had volunteered for the board.
Councilor Vern Leis suggested the board recommend alternate resumes without a Payson attachment.
“We should have an opportunity to look at several people and I think we should look at someone that is independent of Payson,” he said.
The council unanimously agreed.