Local News

Democracy Inaction: Tusayan Council Fast Tracks Stilo Supporter To Town Council

January 10, 2016

 If you had planned on submitting an application for a seat on the Tusayan Council, you’re already too late. You didn’t miss any deadlines because none were given. In fact there was no formal call for people to submit applications.

Tusayan’s Town Council made fast work in filling a vacancy on the council created by the resignation of Mayor Greg Bryan. The council appointed longtime Stilo supporter Rebecca Wirth to the position. Wirth ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the council in 2014.

Wirth, who has rarely attended council meetings in the past, was present at the January 6th council meeting.  At the meeting the council decided to forgo the usual process of making a formal request of Tusayan residents to fill the post and they decided to make the appointment that night.

There was a formal application process to replace Bill Fitzgerald. The town even posted a formal notice. Here is a link to a story we did on that process. http://www.grandcanyonwatchdog.com/local/index.php?id=599

This time the council seemed content to privately notify people they deemed appropriate.

During the Council meeting Al Montoya asked about a more formal selection process.

Councilman Reuter replied, “With all due respect to Councilman Montoya, by law we can appoint someone at our will. This was advertised on the agenda. We’ve got a lot of work to do. I think if we have someone who is ready to go. Someone that we know, I think it’s appropriate we appoint them, the sooner the better.”

Evelyn Harris was also at the meeting seeking a seat. She was also interviewed but not appointed.

When Wirth was interviewed she said, “I would like to see growth happen in the next decade. I know there have been a lot of legalities in place.”

Wirth also said she would be impartial.

In October 2011, Wirth spoke out in favor of the Stilo development plan and opined that as a resident of Valle she would prefer to live in Tusayan. Months later she was able to obtain Halvorson-owned housing. And it was just in time for her husband Robert to successfully run for the Sanitary District in 2012. Wirth’s comments were widely publicized on the Stilo backed website “Tusayan’s Future”
Her appointment was also heralded on “Tusayan’s Future” Facebook page.

Mayor Craig Sanderson went along with the fast track appointment as did the rest of the council.

The Town Council also name John Reuter Vice Mayor.

As for the election of a new Mayor, Sanderson says he would like to see that happen as soon as this March, which would be in line with a voter approved initiative. Sanderson said, “What we need to do as council is to ask staff to contact Coconino County Elections and call for the next possible election.”  That may be in conflict with a state law that limits how many elections local governments can have.