Gypsum grapples with sad, but mandated, duty to appoint a successor for Pam Schultz
Town's charter requires appointment action within 30 days of vacancy
GYPSUM — Gypsum is faced with a sad, and somewhat complicated, job this month.
Following the death of Pam Schultz — who had served on the Gypsum Town Council for 32 years and had two years remaining on her eighth term — the council must appoint someone to fill the vacancy.
“But it’s not just a vacancy,” noted Gypsum Town Manager Jeremy Rietmann. “It’s a loss to the community of someone who served this town for three decades. It’s about the loss of a giant in the community.”
While her fellow council members, town staff and residents of the community mark Schultz’s passing, the town charter mandates action regarding the vacancy. Under the Gypsum charter, a Town Council vacancy must be filled within 30 days of its creation.
But while the charter sets a time limit, it does not specify a process. Earlier this year, when Councilmember Karen Shaeffer resigned her seat, the council solicited letters of interest and invited applicants to a meeting to share their individual reasons for seeking a council seat. Twelve applicants stepped forward and the council appointed Bill Baxter to serve the remaining two years of Shaeffer’s term.
Things will be different this time around.
The makeup of the Gypsum Town Council is already veering into new territory as the community copes with the impacts of the COVID-19. Gypsum was slated to conduct a polling place election on April 7, but because of the pandemic, the town has postponed its election until July 7.
That means three council members — Tom Edwards, Marisa Sato and Chris Huffman — will continue to serve on the board until the new election date. Additionally, all three are seeking re-election.
Along with the incumbents, four residents have filed petitions to run for Gypsum Town Council — Cicero Da Silva, Lori McCole, Jesse Meryhew and Kathleen Brendza. The town has reached out to the four challengers to see if they were interested in applying for the two-year vacancy appointment. Three of the four — Da Silva, McCole and Meryhew — submitted their names for consideration.
“The council’s feeling was these people have demonstrated an active interest in community leadership and have put themselves up for election,” Rietmann said.
The council will not solicit other applications and the incumbent candidates are not eligible for the appointment.
“The incumbent members who are running for re-election will not be considered because appointing one of them would create a new vacancy on the council, which would then require an appointment,” Rietmann explained.
To comply with the town charter deadline, the vacancy appointment is scheduled for the next Gypsum Town Council meeting, which will be held remotely to comply with COVID-19 social distancing recommendations, is planned Tuesday, April 28.