Craig council appoints city native to vacant seat
It took less than four minutes for Craig City Council to appoint a Craig native to council’s vacant seat Tuesday night.
In a Dec. 3 special meeting at City Hall, council chose Ryan Hess to fill the seat vacated by Brian MacKenzie after MacKenzie’s arrest in October near Denver on several sexual assault of a child charges.
At least eight applied for the seat, including Stephen Tucker, Brent Huntstad, Scott Lang, Kevin Kernen, Bobby Howard, Benjamin Oliver, and Hess.
“I just want to repeat and reiterate that we do appreciate everyone putting themselves out there,” said Mayor Jarrod Ogden of the other candidates who applied for the seat. “It’s a very important job as everyone knows and it’s not a decision we took lightly on council. We wanted to make sure everyone had adequate time to make a decision for themselves so we can move forward.”
At council’s regular meeting last week, Ogden announced council had essentially extended the deadline to apply for the seat one more week after setting an initial deadline of Nov. 26. Ogden said former Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid was the lone applicant who utilized the extended deadline.
“We had one last candidate throw their hat in the ring,” Ogden said. “Mr. Kinkaid, we very much appreciate that. Your letter of intent was spread amongst council and that was reviewed by everyone.”
But Kinkaid’s appointment wasn’t to be as Councilman Steve Mazzuca motioned within moments of the meeting’s start to appoint Hess. Mazzuca’s motion was seconded by Councilman Paul James and council quickly and unanimously approved Hess’ appointment.
“That was quicker than I thought,” Hess said in the moments after the meeting adjourned. “The way the flow was going, I didn’t think it would be unanimous.”
Hess said the city charter needs updating.
“I think the charter is something that’s antiquated,” Hess said. “It’s got some old portions to it that need to be revised. That’s something that has to happen in every legislative body… Some of that stuff is from 1918 and the 1970s. We definitely need to get building codes up-to-date and modern, that kind of thing.”
Hess also wants to invest Craig’s budget surplus into infrastructure to save money in the long term.
“Budgets work completely different in a business than they do in a government because the way you raise capital in business is completely different compared to a government,” Hess said. “Government has to invest in infrastructure because it starts to collapse. It’s a bigger cost. When you’re investing in stuff now, it’s a long-term thing. It’s going to save you money 20 years down the road. It’s something you spend while you have money instead of going down the road 20 years and saying, ‘we don’t have funding for this.’ So, using capital appropriately and planning for that 20 years… We’re at 66 percent reserves. That’s really high. There aren’t a lot of communities that run at that level. So, that’s pretty good.”
Hess said he wants to help build back trust in city council after MacKenzie’s resignation.
“I’ve been in the public eye since I was 18 years old. I’ve been in fire service and law enforcement in other communities. I hold myself to a high ethical standard,” Hess said. “Things keep happening in government where somebody does something and people lose trust across the board. We can’t have that anymore. We have to hold ourselves accountable. You live in a glass bowl and you have to make sure that everyone sees you as approachable and knows that you’re a good person and you’ll do the right thing. That’s what I’ll bring to this.”
Scott Lang was one of several other candidates who applied for the seat. Lang said Hess is a good choice.
“I think they picked the right guy. During his interview, he came across as exceedingly knowledgeable,” Lang said. “He has some good ideas for this and I think it’s a great choice. It’s who I would have picked.”
Mayor Ogden is also confident council made the right choice.
“I think he interviewed well. He’s well spoken. I like that about him,” Ogden said. “He seems knowledgeable about a lot of different things. He seems to have a lot of passion. I appreciate his candor…I think we made a really good choice.”
Councilman Chris Nichols said Hess’s knowledge of government gave him the confidence Hess was right for the job.
“He was very knowledgeable,” Nichols said. “I think of all the candidates he showed the right knowledge on government and government procedure and how we should operate.”
Hess will be sworn in at council’s next regular meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 10.