SHERIDAN — Members of Sheridan City Council voted Monday to appoint Jesus Rios to fill the vacant seat on Council left when Levi Dominguez resigned in January.
Rios was selected by a majority vote of three out of five total votes. Councilman Alex Lee recused himself from the candidate presentations and the vote.
Rios is chief operating officer at Ptolemy Data Systems and said he brings a lifetime of public service, including a term as the University of Wyoming student body president, to the position.
He applied for the open seat after March 3 when City Council decided to accept citywide applications following a Feb. 18 vote to eliminate the city’s system of wards and switch to at-large representation on City Council.
Rios will serve through the upcoming November election, at which time he will have to run for the position if he wishes to continue as a city councilor. Whoever is elected in November will serve the remainder of Dominguez’s term through 2016.
Rios will be sworn in at the regular City Council meeting April 21.
Three other candidates made presentations to the council for consideration before the vote. These included Planning Commissioner Thayer Shafer, former Councilwoman Mona Hansen and Assistant Manager of Advance America Kenneth Allen. Hansen applied for the open seat Wednesday, and Allen applied Friday.
Each of the four candidates had 10 minutes to present to the council. Their presentations were to include their answers to four questions that were provided to them in writing prior to Monday’s meeting.
City Clerk Scott Badley said that in prior years, candidates were interviewed by the council but that process introduced bias because candidates were asked different questions and the process was not kept equal. That is why questions were provided in writing in advance.
The four questions provided to each candidate were:
1. What are the goals you want to accomplish during your time on the council?
2. Can you describe specific actions you and the council can do to foster economic prosperity?
3. If you had been on the council during the financial downturn and been faced with the decision to outsource first response of ambulance services, how would you have voted? In other words, would you have voted to contract with the private sector or not. If not, why not?
4. If you had been on the council during the discussion about fluoride and the city council vote to control the amount of fluoride in the water supply, how would you have voted? If not, why not?
Mayor Dave Kinskey said the questions regarding the outsourcing of ambulance service and addition of fluoride to the water did not have a right or wrong answer.
“The other two questions were designed to see if a candidate had the ability to take a stand, yes or no, and explain it. There was really no expectation that somebody would have a right or wrong answer. It’s just, if you’re up here, you have to take a vote. Those questions were significant regardless of what position they took saying, ‘Hey, I understand that this is a position that requires that ultimately I’m going to have to vote yes or no. I can’t duck the question.’ I think it served that purpose,” Kinskey said. “The wrong answer would have been to dance around it and never take a stand.”
Kinskey noted that he voted for Shafer even though Shafer’s answer to the fluoride question was that he would have voted against the addition of fluoride, which is different than Kinskey’s policy stance on the issue.
In his presentation, Rios said he grew up in Buffalo, served with the Wyoming Army National Guard and that he brings dedication to Wyoming as evidenced by his refusal of job offers out of state in order to stay in Wyoming. He currently serves as the president of the Sheridan County Republican Party and has worked for the Daniels Fund, the Sheridan Community Education Foundation, ACT and Ptolemy in Sheridan since 2001.
In the position, Rios said he will offer a pro-business mindset and will work to advocate for state dollars for the community. He also supported the recently adopted reserve policy, noting that he’d like to see it more aggressively pursued if possible.
He also said he will work to remove barriers that could inhibit successful business development and, in honor of his son who instigated a family recycling program, that would be to establish curbside recycling in Sheridan.
“I think it’s going to be drinking through the fire hose because obviously we’re in a budget session so there will be a lot of late nights, I’m sure, working to understand the budget and where we’re going from here,” Rios said. “I think the city is heading in the right direction in our planning efforts to insure that we can have a sound operating budget.”