An empty seat on the Camp Verde Town Council remains open, after the council couldn’t agree on who should fill it. The seat opened up after Councilman Mike Parry resigned amid questions over whether or not he still lived in Camp Verde.
No candidate that applied garnered the four votes necessary to fill the position, active through June 2011.
The council is now taking new applications from the public until the end of the month, and wants to make a decision at its meeting Wednesday, Feb. 6.
There was plenty of interest from the public last week, but the council was divided about who would be best for the job.
A good deal of public support was behind Harry Duke, the town’s former postmaster who narrowly lost last year’s council election to Parry.
Councilmen Ron Smith, Bob Kovacovich and Greg Elmer supported Duke as the public’s second choice, but Mayor Tony Gioia, Vice Mayor Brenda Hauser and Councilwoman Norma Garrison voted against him.
Garrison was under public pressure to vote for Duke, but in the end, she felt bringing him on the council would cause Camp Verde more harm than good. She felt the same way about applicant Robin Whatley, the mayor’s former campaign manager and current Parks and Recreation commissioner, whose nomination by Hauser failed to garner a second.
“These are two people who were very involved in a very emotional campaign,” Garrison said. “Because of their involvement in the campaign, I don’t want the council accused of taking sides. I want someone who doesn’t have the baggage of a hard-fought campaign.”
Gioia didn’t vote to second the nomination of Whatley, his former manager. Gioia put his support behind Dave Freeman, a housing commissioner and planning and zoning commission chairman.
Despite a somewhat turbulent personal history as a postal employee with Duke, Gioia said that a 70-point grading system he devised for this decision put Freeman at the top of the list.
“I looked primarily at current service to the town,” Gioia said. “[Freeman] rated very highly.”
Freeman gave a speech before the vote, accenting his handling of last year’s livestock ordinance debate as proof he could handle the hot seat.
But Freeman’s appointment to the council was shot down by the same council members who threw their support behind Duke; only Gioia, Hauser and Garrison supported Freeman.
Smith, who made a motion to make Duke the newest member of Camp Verde’s leading body, said that the public had made its choice in choosing Duke now that Parry was no longer on the council.
Jerry Tobish, a downtown business owner also received support from Smith, Kovacovich and Elmer. His appointment was blocked by Gioia, Hauser and Garrison.
Tina Andersen, another local business owner, withdrew her name from the running before the vote; so did Donald O’Toole, a local man who threw his support behind Duke after withdrawing.
The council didn’t vote on Tim Sykes, the first person to throw his hat in the ring; it was later discovered that Sykes didn’t meet the residency requirement of living inside Camp Verde town limits for a year previous to applying for the seat.
While those who have already applied can keep their names in the running, the Town Council is accepting new letters in hopes to fill the seat by Wednesday, Feb. 6.
They have 60 days to fill the position under state law, but it’s unclear if there would be any real penalties against the town if it doesn’t meet its deadline.
Mark Lineberger can be reached
at 567-3341 or e-mail