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Gering city council split over administrator: Kaufman sworn in, Dan Smith named council president
December 11, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Photos by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen - Newly elected and re-elected members of the Gering City Council are administered the oath of office during Monday’s Council meeting. From left are council members Rebecca Shields and Julie Morrison, City Clerk Kathy Welfl, and council members Dan Smith and Phillip Holliday.

Most of the meeting was uneventful, consisting of rezoning issues and approving federal loans. But when approving appointments and reappointments of city staff came up on the agenda, council member Troy Cowan motioned for the appointments to be considered separately.

Council member Justin Allred asked for a reason for the motion, but Cowan would only say “I don’t have to give a reason.” His motion was approved on a 5-3 vote.
The first to be considered for reappointment was Danielzuk. Cowan, along with council members Rebecca Shields, Don Christensen and Phillip Holliday, voted not to reappoint. Members Allred, Dan Smith, Larry Gibbs and Julie Morrison voted in favor of the reappointment. That left the decision to Mayor Kaufman, who voted to reappoint Danielzuk.

All other officials were appointed or reappointed by unanimous 8-0 votes: City Engineer Paul Snarr, City Clerk Kathy Welfl, City Treasurer John Mejia and City Attorney Jim Ellison.

After the meeting, Cowan refused media requests to explain his vote not to retain Danielzuk’s services, saying it was “just my opinion.”
But council member Holliday did speak with the media. He said he’s been asking for opinions from his constituents. “There were pros and cons on both sides,” he said. “Their concerns may be a product of the environment. Some of the issues were over the packing plant proposal and the city funds spent on that, plus a lack of transparency in city government.”

Holliday said that despite the 4-4 vote, he thinks Danielzuk still has the council’s confidence. “There needs to be steps taken to show he’s committed to doing the right things. We’ve had a lot of controversy over the last four years and some checks and balances need to be established.”

Contacted the following day, council member Christensen said he didn’t know why it happened. “All I can say is that like anything else, some people vote yes and others vote no. And I really don’t want to discuss personality issues. I guess I just wanted to vote no.”

Earlier in the meeting, Council President Don Christensen praised outgoing Mayor Ed Mayo for his service the past four years. Projects completed during his tenure included locating the Fresh Foods supermarket in Gering, more business expansion and retention, and the redevelopment of the former McKinley school property for residential housing.

In other action, Dan Smith was voted in as the new council president.

Outgoing Gering Mayor Ed Mayo (second from left) was honored for his service over the past four years. From left are council member Justin Allred, council president Don Christensen and City Administrator Lane Danielzuk.

Tony Kaufman, sworn in Monday night as Gering’s newly elected Mayor, made his first vote to break a tie over whether to reappoint Lane Danielzuk as Gering City Administrator.
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