SHERIDAN — Sheridan Mayor Dave Kinskey was appointed Monday to fill the Wyoming Senate seat for Senate District 22 left vacant by the death in June of Sen. John Schiffer, R-Kaycee. Kinskey will finish Schiffer’s unexpired term through 2016.
The Sheridan City Council announced a special meeting for noon Thursday at which they will accept Kinskey’s resignation and appoint a new mayor.
“The late Sen. Schiffer did a fantastic job, and I’m honored to be able to follow in his footsteps to represent all of Johnson County and Sheridan in Senate District 22,” Kinskey said. “These interviews were wide ranging and there’s a broad range of issues that need to be addressed. Cheyenne has a tremendous impact on our communities, and I think it’s important that I hit the ground running.”
Kinskey said he has already been researching the state budget and is looking forward to sitting down with people to see what their concerns are. He will devote himself to the Senate position and committee work full time.
At the same time, Kinskey said he will not rush the transition from mayor to senator.
“Transition is very important. I think we’re fortunate. We’ve got a good team at City Hall, we have strong management and a council that works together very well,” Kinskey said. “I want to make sure we have a smooth transition. I’ve got 10 years of my life into the city of Sheridan in building our infrastructure and making sure we’re job ready, and I think council shares the conviction that we want to make sure the transition is smooth.”
Since one person cannot hold two elected offices, the mayor’s seat will be vacant once Kinskey resigns and is sworn in as a senator, City Clerk Scott Badley said.
State statute provides no time limit on when the mayor must resign. However, Kinskey noted at the City Council meeting Monday that he would meet with Council President John Heath and Council Vice President Alex Lee today to discuss the process, with plans of resigning at the next regular council meeting or at a special meeting called sooner.
Badley referenced state statute when describing how the mayor’s seat would be filled. According to statute, City Council will appoint a member of the council as mayor. The statute states that whoever is appointed will serve until his or her successor is elected at the next general municipal election, at which time whoever is elected will fill the unexpired term.
However, state law also says that if a vacancy in a four-year term of office occurs in the term’s second year or later after the first filing day for the upcoming election, “no election to fill the vacancy shall be held and the temporary successor appointed shall serve the remainder of the unexpired term.”
Since this is Kinskey’s second year of his term, and the vacancy will occur after the first filing date for this year, the City Council member who is appointed to fill the mayor’s seat will fill it through 2016.
Badley said that is how legal counsel for the Wyoming Association of Municipalities interpreted the statutes. Badley also said he is still working with legal counsel to determine if and how the vacant council seat will then be filled.
Lee said after the vote that he was confident in the decision.
“First and foremost, congratulations to Dave Kinskey. We’re going to have one heck of a representative in the Senate,” Lee said. “Just being one that’s been down there and worked the Senate and the Legislature with him, he’s got their respect. He goes down there having the knowledge, and he knows how to build coalition, and that is what you need to be a senator and representative is the ability to bring people together, present a vision and support it.”
Lee said he is also confident in the process of secession laid out in state statute to fill the mayor’s seat. He said the council has already been taking more leadership over the last several years and is ready to step into those roles even more. He also noted that the two-year budget recently passed by the council and the five-year capital improvement plan give the council good guidance to follow.
“The city is in great shape. We will continue to be in great shape. In leadership, we’ll move forward and we’ll do what the council does, and that’s decide the mayor for the city of Sheridan moving forward,” Lee said.
The actual process for choosing the mayor will be decided by the council but will be done at a public meeting with a vote.
Senate District 22 encompasses all of Johnson County and rural areas of eastern and southern Sheridan County. Kinskey’s residence on Mountain Shadows Boulevard is within SD22. It is also within city limits, qualifying him for both elected offices.
The appointment was made at a joint special meeting of the Sheridan and Johnson county commissioners who chose from three candidates including Kinskey and Johnson County residents Jim Gampetro and Ryan Wright.
The three candidates were chosen out of a field of nine applicants by Sheridan and Johnson County Republican Party precinct committeemen and committeewomen for Senate District 22 at a meeting July 1.
The decision by the county commissioners was a weighted system based on the population of residents from each county who live in SD22. In total, Sheridan County commissioners held 53.9 percent of the vote while Johnson County commissioners held 46.1 percent.
In the blind vote, all three Johnson County commissioners voted for Kinskey, while two of five Sheridan County commissioners voted for the mayor, giving Kinskey a total vote of 67 percent. One Sheridan County commissioner voted for Gampetro and two voted for Wright.