Council meeting bombshell; Mayor John Shevlin resigns

46_john_5341By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor

In what had been a rather mundane council meeting, near the end of business, Mayor John Shevlin dropped a bombshell and read a letter of resignation.

It was hinted back in December that he may resign, however there were a few things he wanted work on.

He simply said, “I cannot continue to serve as mayor.” He said later that it was for personal and family reasons and he did not want to make it public. “It was a tough decision to make,” he said. His resignation is effective March 21, the date of the next council meeting.

Applications for the city’s leader are available at city hall and it is hoped a new mayor can be named by then. The mayor is paid $985.74 a month.

If a new mayor can’t be decided on in this short period of time, the council has 30 days to find someone to fill out the remainder of Mayor Shevlin’s term.

The person appointed to fill his position would serve until the next city election, then run for office on a two-year term and after that begin the cycle of running for a four year term of office.

In the interim, council president Sandy Syvertson would serve as mayor. He told the I-O after the meeting that he wasn’t interested in taking on the mayor’s position.

Asked if he would be interested in being mayor, Alderman Wally McHenry flatly and emphatically said “No!” He indicated he would not seek re-election to his council position.

However, the council’s first woman member, Wendy Judisch told the I-O on Tuesday, after being asked if she was interested in stepping up, “I’m not ruling it out at this time.” She went on to say, “It’s a big job and big shoes to fill.”

Sixty-five years old, the mayor was raised in Miles City and won re-election to a second term as a write-in candidate in the Nov. 3, 2009 election.

He defeated Keith Melhus 364-42. There is a little over three years left in his present term.

An appointed mayor would fill out that time and then would have to run for office as an elected official.

Shevlin and his wife Penny have been married 44-years, have two sons and five grandchildren.

After he read his letter of resignation City Finance Officer Agnes Fowler said, “It has been a pleasure to work with you.”

The mayor noted he would be around to advise the new mayor so a smooth transition takes place.

In other business, the council, on a 4-0 vote moved to grant the Pondera Arts Council (PAC) $1,000 for program(s). Councilwoman Wendy Judisch made the motion with a second from Wally McHenry.

A discussion on library funding was tabled until it is closer to making up the fiscal year budget.

The council moved to accept a contract with Choteau attorney Justin Lee for $3,500 for the first year and $4,000 for the second year for prosecution and civil duties. Asked for some input, Chief Gary Dent commented, “He has been good to work with.”

The council OK’d the sale of a 1956 LaFrance fire truck. It was not as valuable as first thought and was sold to John Bergstrom for $3,000. The truck will stay in the area so it can be used in parades and other special events.

Chief Dent gave his report, noting that the CPD received 160 calls last month. In part there were 13 rides home from bars, three tournaments worked, one felony arrest, 14 traffic citations issued and 20 various assists performed.

Public Works Director Richard Anderson reported crews are still sanding and doing snow removal and working on equipment in the shop. There will be a rural water schooling session at the water plant, a leak at a trailer park was fixed and sewer work will begin as soon as weather permits.

Cheryl Curry from the Port Authority said there has been four enquires for business expansion or startup and there is interest in the new Industrial Park. “Things are going good,” she said.

The next regular meeting of the city council will be March 21, 7:30 p.m. in city hall at 411-1/2 S. Main Street.