City Council eliminates wards, instigates at-large representation

SHERIDAN – The city of Sheridan no longer has wards after City Council voted 4-1 on Tuesday to adopt an ordinance that establishes representation on the council as an at-large, citywide system with six councilors and a mayor.

Councilwoman Kristin Kelly was the only ‘no’ vote on the issue for a variety of reasons including that it is less intimidating to run for and represent a small area of the city than the entire city.

Councilwoman Shelleen Smith was away for business and did not vote.

Mayor Dave Kinskey and council members who voted for the change said they thought it would widen the pool of people who may run for a council seat and offer greater representation since all six councilors and the mayor must win a citywide election and not just an election in one of three wards.

The vote followed more than an hour of public comment from six Sheridan residents who spoke against the change. Reasons included fear of skewed representation, the cost to run a citywide campaign discouraging people from running for office, belief that the current system of three wards with two councilors each was working well and concern about the rapidness of the change, which was proposed on third reading of an ordinance that would have slightly altered the boundary line between wards 2 and 3.

The amendment to the ordinance was adopted Feb. 3, and then the ordinance was tabled to allow two more weeks for input.

City Clerk Scott Badley said it is his understanding that the open seat from Ward 3 left when Councilman Levi Dominguez retired, will be filled with an appointed council member from Ward 3 until the election in fall 2014, when it will become open to at-large candidates who will complete the remainder of Dominguez’s term through 2016.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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