The Cedar Springs City Council swore in a new mayor and mayor pro-tem last Thursday, November 12 but the voting was not without some strained moments.
Clerk Linda Branyan opened the meeting by swearing in the two trustees that won the recent election, Charlie Watson and Pamela Conley (see story on page 3). She then asked for nominations for the office of mayor, and Christine Fahl nominated Charlie Watson. He is just starting his second four-year term, and served last year as mayor pro-tem. Ronny Merlington then nominated long time council member Patricia Capek for mayor and Raymond Huckleberry seconded. Capek is serving her fourth term, and has served as mayor pro-tem in the past. Because Watson’s nomination came first, the council voted on his nomination first. The motion passed 5-2, with Merlington and Capek voting against. With the majority vote, Watson was appointed and sworn in as mayor.
Ken Benham then nominated Capek for mayor pro-tem. With four votes in her favor, the vote came to Merlington, who asked Capek if she would accept the position. After a moment’s hesitation, she answered.
“I decline the position of mayor pro-tem,” she said, without explanation.
An awkward silence hung in the meeting room until Watson spoke up and said that if Capek did not accept the position, he then wanted to nominate Christine Fahl for mayor pro-tem. The motion passed 7-0. Fahl is just starting her second year on the council.
People who know Capek and witnessed the proceedings were quite surprised by the turn of events. “I was blindsided by that,” said one resident. “I didn’t expect that at all.”
At the end of the meeting during council comment time, Huckleberry reportedly noted that he hoped he would still be on the council when Capek finally became mayor.
Capek opted not to comment publicly on why she declined the mayor pro-tem position.