by Rick Langenberg
It was the end of a political era in Woodland Park, as a group of elected leaders who collectively served nearly 30 years in office bid farewell. Last Thursday marked the official changing of guard with the searing-in of new mayor Dave Turley and three new council members, Carrol Harvey, Bob Carlsen and Gary Brovetto.
However, the ceremony was mostly highlighted by comments by outgoing mayor Steve Randolph and veteran council members George Parkhurst and Jon DeVaux. In addition, a tribute was made to Betty Clark-Wine, who didn’t attend the ceremony. Clark-Wine, who lost in the recent mayoral race against Turley, had served as a council member since 2008.
For Randolph, Parkhurst and DeVaux, the farewell ceremony was a bitter-sweet occasion. These members, who actually got their political start as council appointees, served more than 25 total years as elected leaders. During their various stints on the council, the departing leaders grappled with such issues as the Wal-Mart development controversy, the formation of the Downtown Development Authority, the sale of the town’s former rodeo grounds, a new comprehensive master plan, the economic crash, various bids for a major recreation center and a new managerial reign at city hall. At times, city council meetings and frequent workshops often extended well past midnight.
For the most part, the departing council members and their peers lauded the group as one that didn’t always agree on key issues, but maintained a reputation for conducting friendly exchanges. “This is the purest form of government,” said Randolph, who served two terms as mayor and another four-plus years on the council, when describing the town’s volunteer setup. “We often agreed to disagree.” In comparisons with other entities in the region that have engaged in personal in-fighting and controversial mud-slinging he said Woodland Park has become a model for how municipal government affairs are handled. Randolph expressed mixed sentiments about his departure from the role as the city’s head leadership ambassador. He described his time on the council and as mayor as a great experience, but admitted he was looking for time outside the local public spotlight. He said he was looking forward to doing maintenance projects at his house and on his personal vehicles.
DeVaux, the mayor pro tem since 2008, actually got the most sentimental among the departing leaders. He said his role on the council has provided him with a great sense of “ownership” and “passion” regarding the city. During his council debut, DeVaux cited the growth of the downtown as a positive development. “There have been some nice changes,” said DeVaux, who has been a key member of the DDA since its formation. He also gave some needed advice to his successors: “Don’t take things personally.” DeVaux warned his successors to expect criticism from the least likely people who you may regard as friends and neighbors. Moreover, he touted the value of getting things accomplished as a group. Parkhurst, meanwhile, mainly complimented the staff, and remained mostly low-key about leaving.
The leaders also received much praise from their peers. Clark-Wine was recognized for “looking out for the taxpayers” and bringing a different perspective to the council. Parkhurst was mostly praised for his ability to edit and word-smith ordinances on the spot and to offer a needed historical knowledge regarding Woodland Park. DeVaux was praised for providing much “common sense” to council decisions and for his devotion to the DDA pursuits. And Randolph received pats on the back for his patience and ability to conduct meetings in a way that gave citizens a chance to be heard, but that also moved the council towards crafting decisions and performing consensus-building.
Time for Business
However, shortly after leaving their posts, the new council swiftly got down to business. Councilman Eric Smith, one of the main remaining veteran members on the panel, got the nod as the mayor pro tem. Terry Harrison is only other senior council member. However, due to term limits, Harrison will have to depart from the council next year. As a result, the council agreed to select Smith, who works as a civil engineer and is involved with several key development projects, to assume the mayor pro tem slot. Also, the council agreed to set the process in motion for picking someone to fill out the remainder of Turley’s council seat. Based on the city’s charter, a replacement should be made within the next few weeks. The council-appointee would serve two years. Turley made a plug for the open seat, citing this position as a great way to get involved in city government. Although the position is only for two years, past trends have favored a council appointee for winning a regular seat in the following election.
The city will accept letters of interest from potential candidates until April 18. The council will then do interviews and pick a council person on April 19. For more information regarding the process, visit the city’s website.
The council also set up its preliminary committee assignments. Under the proposals, Turley will become the city’s primary representative on the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments board, with Brovetto gaining a slot as an alternate. Harvey gained the nod as the city’s main representative for the Downtown Development Authority board, while Carlsen will represent the city on the parks and recreation committee and Brovetto will become part of the historic preservation commission. Smith and Turley will stay involved with the Utilities Advisory committee. A yet-to-be appointed council member, meanwhile, will become part of the committee that handles community investment requests.