One seat on the Castle Rock Town Council will remain empty the remainder of this year after councilmembers debated the appropriateness of filling a council vacancy weeks before the next council …
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One seat on the Castle Rock Town Council will remain empty the remainder of this year after councilmembers debated the appropriateness of filling a council vacancy weeks before the next council election.
District 1 Councilmember Jess Loban is leaving his council position on Aug. 31 because his family is moving out of state.
Councilmembers Loban and Kevin Bracken recommended the council appoint local school administrator Ryan Hollingshead for the remainder of his term. But multiple councilmembers expressed concern with filling the vacancy before November's council election and said it should remain vacant.
Four seats on the council including District 1 are up in the general election; mail-in balloting begins in mid-October and ends Nov. 3.
Hollingshead told Colorado Community Media he is running for election in District 1 although he had not filed with the town as of Aug. 19. Hollingshead called it an honor to be nominated but said he understood council's decision.
Two other candidates — Robert Wade and Geneva Brier — have already filed with the town as candidates in District 1. Candidates had until Aug. 24 to turn in candidate petitions.
Councilmember Caryn Johnson was the first to comment in favor of leaving the vacancy open, later echoed by Councilmembers George Teal, James Townsend, Mayor Pro Tem Jason Bower and Mayor Jason Gray.
“I think that we let the voters decide in November who is the best person to represent them,” Johnson said.
Teal said District 1 would still have representation through at-large Mayor Gray, who represents the entire town, and offered to work with District 1 residents as well.
“My concern is even if we have no wish to put our thumb on the scale and influence the electors in District 1, I do think there is going to be that perception,” Teal said.
Townsend said he agreed it was too near the election to appoint Hollingshead to the vacancy, particularly without interviewing multiple nominees.
“The town took great pains to bring in an at-large mayor for precisely this sort of thing,” he said.
Bower said appointing someone so close to the election “may give the wrong impression” and that former councilmembers emailed him advising against filling the seat.
Gray said he understood leaving the seat vacant would mean “there's going to be a gap” in District 1's representation on council but that other council members were up to the task of helping Loban's constituents in the meantime.
Appointing Hollingshead “would be giving Ryan an advantage,” Gray said.
Town manager Dave Corliss said the council is not required under Castle Rock's charter to fill the vacancy because of its proximity to the next council election.
“It really is in the discretion of council,” Town Attorney Michael Hyman said.
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