Matt Solomon announces departure from Eagle Town Council
Solomon steps down ahead of November election to ensure seat is filled by voters, not by appointment
Eagle Town Council member Matt Solomon announced last week that he will be stepping down from the Town Council, a decision which officially took effect last Wednesday.
The decision is not necessarily Solomon’s swan song as a local public servant, but rather an opportunity to “pass the torch” and take a “time out” to enjoy life in the community he holds so dear, he said.
“I turned 47 this weekend,” Solomon said in a meeting of Town Council members last week. “… And I realized I have been in public service in this town and county for 20 straight years, five and a half of which on this council.
“My seat will be added to the three seats in the election in November,” Solomon announced.
Solomon said he decided to speak only to Eagle Town Council member David Gaboury and Eagle Town Manager Brandy Reitter before making the announcement last week because he thought he might get emotional and didn’t want to make a big fuss about it.
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Other members and Mayor Scott Turnipseed expressed their surprise at the announcement, but Solomon quickly made a motion to adjourn, seconded by Gaboury, to avoid further public discussion.
“It’s hard to do,” Solomon said in an interview this week. “It’s important to me, and I appreciate the town.”
Solomon was first elected to the Eagle Town Council to serve a two-year term and then was re-elected for a four-year term.
As he stood on the brink of reaching the Town Council’s mandatory term limit of eight years, he said he made the decision to step down early after becoming aware of a piece of municipal code stipulating that he had to leave now for his seat to be filled in the November election rather than by appointment. Solomon is still eligible to run for the Town Council again as long as he takes a hiatus before doing so.
Eagle’s designation as a home rule town after last year’s spring election brings with it the equivalent of a new constitution for the town, written by community members, and a whole host of new rules, Solomon explained. This is one such rule.
“I’ve sat through four appointments in the last five-and-a-half years, and it’s a horrible process, it’s a horrible thing,” he said in the meeting. “The community should have a voice in that.”
With too many appointments, “you have a board that represents the board and who the board thinks is best suited, not who the public feels is best representing them, and I do feel that’s important,” he said this week. “… I wanted to exit with grace, and I wanted to exit with the public in mind.”
The Town Council was tasked with appointing members to fill three seats last year alone, Turnipseed said Tuesday, after the dust settled around Solomon’s surprise announcement.
Turnipseed has overseen all three since his election in April 2020, and now, with four seats up for election this November, he said he is starting to feel a bit of whiplash.
“When you first get on the council, it takes a little while to understand your role, your responsibility, how things proceed … it just takes time,” he said. “But hopefully, we get a good selection of people, and it could be a really good thing, too.”
In addition to Solomon’s seat, Town Council members Geoff Grimmer, Janet Bartnik and David Gaboury are all up for reelection, and only Grimmer has communicated his intention to run again at this stage, Turnipseed said.
Four open seats create the opportunity for a significant shake-up on the seven-member council in a pivotal time of growth and long-term decision making for the town. From the East Eagle Sub Area Plan to the town’s climate action goals to the Grand Avenue corridor, a potential switch-up of half the council is sure to have an impact.
Still, Turnipseed said he is supportive of Solomon’s decision and grateful for all he accomplished for the town.
“I was surprised that he resigned; I wasn’t completely caught off guard,” he said.
Solomon created “many six to one votes” with his unyielding commitment to the things that impassioned him, Turnipseed said.
“It’s good to bring a different perspective and not be afraid to go against the grain … and he certainly wasn’t, and he was consistent, he stood up for what he believed in and didn’t want to compromise on things that he felt strongly about, that’s for sure.”
While he didn’t get into public service to accomplish his own goals, but rather to be an advocate for the residents’ priorities, Solomon said he too is proud to have “checked a lot of boxes” for the town.
“I was one of three different groups of people that represented the town to the best of our abilities, and I thought we worked well together,” he said. “It was a great collaborative effort by all of us to do the best we could.”
Last year, Solomon introduced a measure to get all Eagle Town Council members to donate their paychecks back to the town’s general fund during the pandemic.
Solomon said he would have liked to have finished out the rest of his term but will be glad to help with the transition in any way possible.
“I’m not walking away,” he said. “Even after November … I’m available to all of you. I’m still a member of this community and I still care.”
At the upcoming Aug. 10 Town Council meeting, members will take a vote to officially declare a vacancy on the council, Turnipseed said. They will then decide if the seat should remain vacant through November or if they should appoint someone to replace Solomon for the next three months until the voters decide who will fill the seat for a full term.
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