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EDITORIAL: Help wanted — Candidates needed for vacant Ward II seat

For the past several weeks, a chair at the Powell City Council meetings has remained empty.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The people of Powell overwhelmingly agreed in November they wanted Don Hillman to be their mayor for another four years.

But sadly, Mayor Hillman’s first council meeting of his new term in January ended up being his last.

We miss Mayor Hillman, and his unwavering dedication to Powell, a community he loved; we also know Mayor Hillman believed in progress and wanted what’s best for Powell.

With that in mind, city leaders have taken steps toward becoming a full seven-member council once again. Longtime councilman John Wetzel recently became Powell’s new mayor after serving as council president for several years.

Now comes the next step: filling Wetzel’s vacant council seat in Ward II.

It’s been nearly 10 years since someone new represented the ward on the Powell City Council. Voters chose councilman Floyd Young in 2008, while Wetzel was elected in 2006.

In the last three election cycles, no one challenged the incumbents in Ward II — which covers the area west of Division Street.

On one hand, that’s a good sign, as voters appear to be satisfied with Young and Wetzel’s work and record of service over the past decade. However, we’re concerned with the recent trend of unopposed Powell City Council races. Multiple council races went uncontested in recent elections.

Both in 2012, when Hillman was the sole mayoral candidate, and last year, when he drew two opponents, the mayor welcomed the competition.

“People need to be more interested,” Hillman said last spring when announcing his candidacy.

We agree, and we encourage residents in Ward II to consider serving on the City Council.

The qualifications are simple: Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have lived in Ward II for at least one year. Interested residents just need to send a letter of interest by 5 p.m. March 23. (Letters should be addressed to Mayor-City of Powell, 270 N. Clark St., Powell, WY, 82435.)

The last time a seat opened up on the council — in November 2015, when a Ward III councilman moved out of town — we were pleased to see six applicants submit letters. Ultimately, Lesli Spencer was appointed to represent Ward III, becoming the first woman on the council in more than a decade.

We’d like to see more women and young residents show an interest in serving on the Powell City Council.

Council leaders make important decisions that affect our daily lives, whether it’s how much we pay for electricity, where our garbage is hauled or which economic development endeavors to support. We’re thankful for those who faithfully serve in public offices, and hope to see more community-minded candidates step forward.

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