Outgoing Casper Mayor, Council Members Look Back On One Tough Year
Casper City Council passed the torch from the outgoing mayor to the new mayor and the new vice mayor at its first meeting of the year Tuesday.
A year ago, the council didn't know that it would be passing and dodging political fire balls for much of 2017.
"This was a tough year this year -- a lot of personality (changes) going on and there were a lot of times I wanted to give up," Kenyne Humphrey said in a one-minute speech as her last act as mayor.
"But you guys stood behind me and kept me going with your kind words, encouragement, and I want to thank you for that," Humphrey said.
"And I want to thank staff for supporting me when I've been frustrated and just exhausted," she said. "And I want to thank our community, because it probably was the hardest year the city's had for a while."
During the year, she and the other eight -- then seven, then eight -- council members fielded these among other fire balls: a police department in revolt and a police chief who was fired; a fire department with similar issues and a fire chief who retired early; a city manager who retired early; a city attorney who retired early; a council member who resigned; a $4 million deficit looked like it wasn't going anywhere; and whether downtown would have a hotel-conference center.
The council got through most of it, but not without a bruising.
It hired a new police chief and a new city manager, selected a new council member, and is looking for a new fire chief and new city attorney. And the budget got balanced.
During all that, Humphrey said she'd quit if the rest of the council didn't support her.
It didn't look like she'd get that a year ago.
"Kenyne, I want to thank you," Amanda Huckabay said. "Last year at this time, there were a few of us that did not vote for you to be mayor, and we didn't have a lot of faith in you."
Looking back, Huckabay said she's changed her mind.
"I think that you provided us strong leadership, and I think that your experience was absolutely integral to making it through what we had to go through," she said. "And your poise and grace during all of that I think are very admirable, and I'm glad that I got to know you as a person and not just having you as a political figurehead."
Tuesday, Huckabay didn't vote for vice mayor Ray Pacheco to be mayor, but said it only was for ideological reasons. She joined Chris Walsh in that vote, as they did together a year ago when they voted against Humphrey for mayor.
So the meeting seemed somewhat anti-climactic and downright calm with one public hearing in which no one spoke about a liquor license transfer, only one person who commented during the public comment time, and several dozen people, about half of whom were related to Pacheco, watched the proceedings in the council chambers.
After he and Charlie Powell were elected mayor and vice mayor respectively, Municipal Court Judge Robert Hand, Jr., swore them in.
They shook hands, the council recessed to rearrange the seating, approved a few items on the agenda, and looked forward to the year ahead.
"I certainly hope and I know, the gifts and talents on this council and knowing them, will help us get through anything that is difficult," Pacheco said. "That is our goal, that is my hope."