At least seven vying for vacant City Council seat
Craig City Council on Tuesday interviewed at least six candidates to replace Brian MacKenzie, who resigned in October amidst allegations of child sex crimes. One candidate was unable to attend Tuesday night’s interviews due to a scheduling conflict.
Following MacKenzie’s arrest and subsequent resignation, City Council received a number of inquiries from interested applicants.
“I am sending this letter of intent to let you know that I would like to be considered for the vacant position that has been left on city council,” said Stephen Tucker, a council candidate who ran a failed bid for council in Craig’s April election, in an Oct. 18 e-mail to City Clerk Liz White. “I have been retired for the last couple years and have the time and energy to devote to the meetings and the business of day-to-day governing and put all of this behind us.”
Tucker wants to save taxpayers time and money by avoiding an election and appointing someone to MacKenzie’s council seat.
“The circumstances of [MacKenzie’s arrest] have upset everybody, and we don’t need to waste the time and the money with another election,” Tucker said in his letter.
A few days after Tucker’s letter was received, at its regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 22, council heard from Brent Huntstead, who offered his services within the first few minutes of the meeting opening.
“I’d like to offer my services in a volunteer capacity to help out in that regard,” Huntstad said, adding he served three years on a city council in the state of Washington. Though Huntstad appears ready to serve, White said Tuesday that Huntstad could not attend the interviews due to a scheduling conflict.
By Oct. 30, the letters of interest seeking to replace MacKenzie started flowing in. That’s when Scott Lang, a resident of Craig since 2001, threw his name into the hat.
“The city of Craig has given me so much; a family, a sense of purpose and belonging, and a wonder place to call home,” Lang said in his letter to the city. “Now, it’s my turn to give back.”
Kevin Kernen, a front line supervisor of 15 years at Craig Station, also sent his letter seeking to serve on council Oct. 30.
“Times are changing in our community,” Kernen said. “The energy driven economy we have been fortunate to have is under attack and will become less in the near future. My interest in council would be to promote fiscal responsibility, creative and sustainable industries, and community involvement through outreach.”
Kernen also has close to two decades of service as a first responder in Craig.
“I have served 19 years with Craig Fire/Rescue, the majority in leadership roles,” Kernen said. “This has given me experience in government budgeting and day to day operation.”
Ryan Hess, a Craig native, said he wants to help Craig survive and thrive.
“The American economy is changing and large industries are being replaced with technology and e-commerce-driven companies. Rural America will thrive in this environment. The large metro areas offer high priced property, limited space, and highly competitive markets. Rural American cities, like Craig, offer so much more to this future economy than large cities do,” Hess said, adding he wants to act. “…I do not want to wake up one day saying, ‘I wish I would have.’ I want to wake up saying, ‘I did.’”
Bobby Howard of the Moffat County School District threw his hat into the ring to be interviewed Tuesday night.
“My fiancée and I moved here in August 2018 and we have been adopted by the people of this community,” Howard said. “She has been hired by the Craig Police Department and is finishing the police academy at this time. She and I have committed to be here for the next five years, but we hope to make this a permanent home. I have started a business here in Craig and we plan to invest our energy in making Craig the best community in the Western Slope of Colorado.”
Benjamin Oliver will also be interviewed Tuesday.
“I am a small business owner with a 2-year degree from CNCC. I moved here when I was 11,” Oliver said in his letter to council. “My father is a coal miner and my mother and brother both work at the hospital. I have served our country by my service in the military. I have traveled to several countries and across the United States, and I always return to my roots here in Craig where the west is still wild, tales of Butch Cassidy are still alive, and herds of elk and mountain lion tracks are around every corner.”