Three new council members were officially sworn in Thursday night for the Stevensville town council.
The event may have been a first in the state’s history.
After three of four members of the council abruptly resigned in July, the town’s attorney determined it was the remaining council member’s duty to fill the vacancies on the board.
Thursday night, Councilperson Robin Holcomb made the motion and then voted to appoint Steve Gibson, Dempsey Vick and Patrick Shourd as new council members.
“This situation has been a conundrum for us,” said Stevensville Mayor Brandon Dewey. “Our city attorney couldn’t find anyone else who had been through it. … We knew our community was potentially setting a precedent that others may have to follow someday.”
The town had nine applicants for the three positions. On Thursday, a crowd filled the council chamber to see who Holcomb had selected.
Once the last person was named, Holcomb announced: “With these new members, the Stevensville Town Council is full and ready for the next agenda item.”
Her announcement was met with applause.
The appointments run through the end of the year.
Council members Bob Michaelson, Stacie Barker and former Mayor Jim Crews resigned their posts following months of acrimony between the council and mayor that had already resulted in resignations by some members of the town’s staff.
The three council members who resigned alleged illegal activity by Dewey, which he has strongly denied.
Vick said he’s watched the council and mayor clash for almost two years, and he’s ready to turn the page.
“It’s been very frustrating to watch,” Vick said. “I think it all boils down to different communication styles. He (Dewey) wasn’t able to communicate with the former council members, and the same thing was happening from the other direction.”
Vick has called Stevensville home for the past 4½ years and has served his community as a member of the volunteer fire department. This is his first political office. He has already filed to be on the ballot in November.
“I would love to start seeing things in Stevensville be more progressive,” he said. “I’m very glad to work with the two new council members.”
He hopes their efforts will set the stage for younger people in the community to start considering stepping up to do their part in moving Stevensville forward.
Shourd said he decided to throw his hat into the ring because “I’m a service-orientated person and I felt like I wanted to give something back to my community. … I don’t have a personal agenda of my own. I just want to serve my community and individuals within my ward.”
“I’ve seen the negativity, but I feel like that’s in the past now,” he said. “I’m a very positive individual, and it’s not going to be business as usual.”
Shourd said he plans to reach out and visit with people inside his ward to learn about the community’s needs.
He hasn’t made a decision yet on whether he’ll run to fill the seat beyond this year.
“I need to have that conversation with my wife,” he said. “I have an 8-year-old, and my number one job is to be good parent. In the next month, I’ll learn more about how much time this position requires.”
If Shourd decides to run, he will be required to file as a write-in candidate by the September deadline. The deadline for filing for the November election has already passed.
All three of the former council members have filed. Vick has filed for Ward 2. Jaime Williams filed for Ward 1.
Dewey said he’s hopeful about the future with the new council members.
“It’s been a long time since the council and administration have been in sync with each other in Stevensville,” Dewey said. “These battles that we’ve had is not something that’s unique. It’s gone on for decades. Right now, we’re going to soak up the sunshine while we can.”