By Hannah Lester
The Auburn City Council has yet to name a replacement to finish out former Ward 4 Council Member Brett Smith’s term.
Smith moved to Florida which means the council has to appoint a new member. However, in discussion tonight, the council could not vote on a candidate with a five-member majority and pushed the vote to the June 21 meeting.
There were four Auburn Ward 4 residents who showed interest in serving as the replacement until November: Ray Huff, Ethan Purdue, Jennifer Stevens and Brent Beard.
At the last council meeting, Auburn Mayor Ron Anders said that he would encourage anyone who wanted to fill this spot to not run for the seat in the August election, saying that would be an unfair advantage to other candidates.
Huff was nominated by Ward 5 Council Member Steven Dixon during the council’s committee of the whole meeting Tuesday and Beard was nominated by Anders.
Beard is a former Auburn City Council member who served four previous terms. He chose not to run in 2018.
“I believe with the short time that this person will be serving the city of Auburn, four months, having an experienced member sit up here with us and go through these decisions is advantageous,” Anders said.
Anders, along with other council members, such as Ward 3 Council Member Beth Witten, said that Beard will be advantageous during the budget process, which will begin next week, given his experience on the council.
Beards nomination was backed up by Ward 7 Council Member Jay Hovey and Ward 8 Council Member Tommy Dawson.
“I found him to be a very honorable man, very honest,” Dawson said.
Huff, who was nominated by Dixon, is an Auburn businessman who has also served on several boards and commissions before, said Ward 2 Council member Kelley Griswold.
“He’s an experienced businessman; he has a lot of experience with budgets,” Griswold said. “… He has an expressed an interest in serving for this brief period of time and I endorse his nomination.”
Dawson said that while he found Huff to be “a very good man” he would be supporting Beard due to his experience on the council.
The council took a vote and there were four votes for Beard and three for Huff, given Ward 6 Council Member Bob Parsons was not in attendance. There must be five votes for a candidate to be approved, said City Manager Megan Crouch.
Ward 3 Council Member Beth Witten asked for a re-consideration of Beard as a nomination, citing his experience, his familiarity with the job and how this would benefit the budget process.
“Based on the fact that we have a duty to have a representative for Ward 4 and that both candidates, or nominees, are very viable candidates, but one having served in the past and having served with a lot of grace, and dignity and positive representation for the city, I would like this council, this body, to reconsider Brent Beard,” she said.
The vote, when re-taken, did not change, however.
Ward 1 Council Member Connie Fitch Taylor said that she had no knowledge of Beard but did receive contact and a resume from Huff. So based on that knowledge, she supported Huff.
The council considered next steps, including waiting for Parsons to return and what happens if the vote turns into a 4 against 4 vote.
In that scenario, the seat would likely remain empty, Crouch said. The item will appear before the council again on June 21.
“I’m thankful under this very unique circumstance that four citizens from Auburn, four quality citizens from Auburn, wanted to be a part of this and I appreciate all four of them reaching out to me and raising their hands, saying ‘I’ll do this, if you want to choose me,’” Anders said.
- The council approved an alcohol beverage license for Fuzzy’s Taco Shop at 1678 South College St.
- The council approved a contract with Azteca Systems, Inc. for an enterprise license agreement for software for $122,000.
- The council approved a professional services agreement with Carmichael Engineering, Inc. for the New Environmental Services and Public Works Facility for over $89,800.
- The council approved a contract with JLD Enterprises, LLC for payment for the Cox Road Widening Project for over $212,600.
- The council approved a contract with Sign World Inc. for wayfinding and installation for the Douglas J. Watson Municipal Complex for $34,200.
- The council approved a contract with Stivers Ford Lincoln for a 2022 Ford Explorer for the Library Department for over $31,300.
- The council approved a right of way warranty deed and payment to Ra Ell Foster for over $21,100 for the Richland Road Sidewalk Project.
- The council approved the establishment of six stop signs and a 25 MPH sign in the Donahue Ridge Subdivision.
- The council approved the establishment of two stop signs in the Links Crossing.
- The council approved the establishment of four stop signs in Mimms Trail.
- The council approved the establishment of one stop sign in Piper Glenn.
- The council approved the establishment of one stop sign in Woodward Oaks.
- The council approved the conditional use approval of a road service use, a Taco Bell with a drive-thru at 1365 N. Donahue Dr.
- The council approved an official change to the minutes of the Jan. 25 meeting, noting a change of a motion labeled to the wrong council member.