Five for five

City council race will be no contest for incumbents


After spending an estimated $5,000, residents of Craig won't see many changes in their elected officials.

Five residents submitted petitions for the five Craig City Council seats up for grabs in the April 1 election.

Listed on the ballot will be incumbents Mayor Dave DeRose, councilors Tom Gilchrist, Kent Nielson, Billy Bingham and newcomer Joe Herod.

They are all guaranteed seats because no other residents submitted petitions to run for those positions.

"It's pretty sad," City Clerk Shirley Seeley said. "There's absolutely no contest whatsoever."

Because of tight deadlines, Seeley cannot cancel that part of the election, which she said will be "an exercise in futility" because there's no race.

There is a slight chance that a last-minute write-in candidate will offer voters some choice, but Seeley believes the possibility of that happening is slim.

"I don't see people writing in after they've had the opportunity to petition onto the ballot," she said.

Write-in candidates must submit paperwork regarding their intent by March 27, but Seeley is required to have ballots printed and in hand by March 21, making it impossible to remove the council candidate portion of the ballot.

"If only five people are running, it's too bad we have to spend the money for an election," said Councilor Don Jones.

In addition to candidates, there are three questions on the April ballot. One would increase the city's property tax by one mill for the construction of sidewalks. Another would change the minimum dollar amount on contracts that the city is required to bid out for from $5,000 to $10,000. The third question would transfer 15.5 acres of abandoned sewer lagoon property on First Street out of the city's utility system and make it available for transfer by ordinance if the council sees fit in the future.

The city budgeted $7,000 for elections in 2003 and Seeley anticipates spending around $5,000.

Jones said there may be an upside to the fact so few people chose to run.

"It's kind of sad but it means people are happy with what we're doing," he said.

Then again, "maybe they just don't care," he added.

Jones, one of the two councilors who is not up for election this year, said he's got no problem with seeing the same faces on the council for another two to four years.

"I think we've been getting along together and doing a good job," he said.

Earlier this year, Councilor Bill Johnston, the second of the two remaining councilors, proposed the council ask voters to increase council pay in sync with cost-of-living increases. Nobody does it for the money, he said, but an increase just might generate more interest in serving.

"Volunteerism is dead and here is another indication of that," he said. "People's lives are getting way too busy to volunteer for things."

The council didn't back his proposal and voters won't see that issue on the April ballot. In any case, Johnston said he, too, is happy with the way things are.

"I think it's a real good council," he said.

"Healthy competition is always good, but I don't mind the council staying the same because I think we're doing a very good job."

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at

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