SHERIDAN — The single vacant seat in Sheridan City Council turned into two Monday night when Kristin Kelly announced her resignation.
In a letter to the mayor, her fellow council members and city staff, Kelly said she considers herself a “Denver to Sheridan Commuter,” as her family will remain living in Sheridan until May. She said the resignation will allow her to pursue career opportunities in Denver. Her resignation goes into effect Oct. 13, and she will begin working for a cybersecurity company out of Denver soon after.
She worked for Powder River Energy Corporation for 16 years as a communications specialist and served as a city councilor for six years.
“I do so hope that economic development activities move forward so that there are more options for opportunities and job choices in Sheridan in the future,” Kelly read from her letter at the start of the special council meeting Monday.
She said she will continue to be active in the community and issues “near and dear” to her heart, including the non-discrimination resolution, continuance of fluoride in the city’s water system, support of the city administrator position, a balanced budget and support for the pathways and YMCA aquatic center.
City administrator Mark Collins outlined the process going forward as initially planned, which includes interviewing the 10 candidates. Two will be chosen from that group.
Erin Hanke, one of three female candidates, shared with council her ability to bring “fresh eyes” to the team, residing in Sheridan less than two years.
She believed citizen opinions should be factored into decisions made by council and emphasized service to the community as an integral part of the council position.
Mona Hansen served previously as a city council member from 2005 to 2008. During those years, she helped with the interview process for police and fire chiefs and public works director, as well as served on boards for Sheridan Travel and Tourism and the juvenile justice joint powers board. She believes remaining available to constituents is an important aspect of the council position.
Patrick Henderson, who works with Whitney Benefits, focused on keeping the character of Sheridan while also creating jobs for the area. He suggested making Sheridan an entrepreneurial hotbed, as well as focusing on preventative measures for strong infrastructure in the future.
Michael Horner highlighted his military and leadership experience in the interview, as well as motivation to make time for listening to constituents. Councilor Alex Lee asked the candidates about the budget, specifically what they deem as important aspects of budget discussions. Horner noted the need for a sustainable budget, looking at long-term solutions for current budget constraints.
Aaron Linden said he would come into the position with an open mind and expansive experience for his age. He believes attracting youth with a strong job market will serve as an integral piece in the council position, as well as being present for constituents and listening to their concerns.
Dustin Looper is one of the youngest candidates in the group. He currently is working toward a business administration degree with Sheridan College and works full time as a bus driver for Sheridan County School District 2. He believes his youth will improve council relations with the younger demographic. He also said he would focus the budget on infrastructure needs.
Council members recognized Jacob Martin from his campaign to run for mayor last election. Martin, who still holds a dream of someday stepping into the role of mayor, said in hindsight he should have started with a role in city council and looks forward to the opportunity now. He believes councilors should be fair, look out for citizens and remain levelheaded.
Ken Pendergraft said he would bring a desire to give back to the community “that gave so much” to him. With a history in both ministry and military, Pendergraft said he works well with others and believes open-minded conversations with constituents work best.
James Whitworth strives to be a bigger part of the community by serving with the city council. He believes knowing and understanding the needs of the citizens while also creating personal relationships are integral aspects of the council position. He also believes the primary budget focus should be conserving taxpayer money.
Audrey Wiggins finished out the interviews for the evening, saying she would bring in a desire to facilitate growth in Sheridan through focuses on infrastructure, attracting new jobs and retaining youth in the community. She said the budget’s focus should be on how to provide services in the community without unnecessary expense.
Mayor Roger Miller said council will talk about the candidates and vote at the Oct. 16 meeting.