By Naomi Hatch
Members of the Snowflake Town Council elected Tom Poscharsky as mayor last week.
The election by council rather than directly by the people was necessitated when the sole candidate for the post, Jason Whiting, withdrew his candidacy and resigned from the council to accept an appointment to the Navajo County Board of Supervisors.
Town Attorney Robert Hall explained how the council should proceed according to statutes to elect the next mayor at the Nov. 18 council meeting.
Hall said that Kelly Willis should remain as mayor through the election process for his successor, but suggested that Willis not vote, only chair the meeting until a new mayor was elected.
Willis then opened nominations for the post.
“A long time ago when we had a retreat, we had some goals that we had in mind. It was about the time that the paper mill left and a lot of people were leaving,” said Vice Mayor Kerry Ballard. “We gave a goal to our town manager to bring industry to our town. He’s done that. There’s been one on the council that’s been right with him the whole time and he has been very good at calling people, he’s gotten to know all the businesses that come here.”
Ballard said that this man has served on the Economic Development Committee, the Fire Department Committee and has been involved in many things in the community, including helping at the senior center.
“He has the time, he has the ability and he has the knowledge to do it,” Ballard continued. “The next two years will be critical for the town to find industry and create jobs.
“I would like to nominate Tom Poscharsky as mayor,” said Ballard.
The motion was seconded by Terril Kay. There were no other nominations and the motion passed.
“Before I do my last act of turning the gavel over, I would like to say a few things,” said Willis. “I’m grateful to have served with so many of the good and noble people of this town.”
Noting that the town has had its ups and downs, good and bad, and even its ugly, Willis said, “Mostly it’s been wonderful. I’ve learned to love so many people that have such a great feel and love for their community.
“I’ve been able to bump shoulders with our elected officials,” Willis said, noting that he had the opportunity to travel with Town Manager Paul Watson to Washington, D.C., and rub shoulders with the elected officials, meeting with Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick and Senator Jeff Flake. “There we labored and tried to get a few dollars to help us out.”
They were meeting to express the town’s desire that the railroad stay in Snowflake, Watson noted.
One of Willis’ highlights was sitting between Governor Jan Brewer and Senator John McCain, who asked him questions and treated him with kindness. “I was able to tell them about our little town. They knew it well, and had a great love for our community and the state of Arizona,” he stated.
Willis noted that he appreciated working with the town staff, and that he will miss the council and the weekly meetings with Watson, Barbara Flake and Hall.
He expressed his love for his wife, and said that they are preparing to live in Australia for 18 months, where they will serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“It’s always been said you make more enemies than you do friends when you’re in politics, but I’m not sure that’s true at all,” said Willis.
He thanked the council members he served with, both present and past, and thanked them for the great service they rendered to the community.
“The last thing I have to do, I pass this to my good friend and the new mayor of the town of Snowflake,” he said as he handed the gavel to Poscharsky and congratulated him.
Town Clerk Barbara Flake canvassed votes for the Nov. 4 election.
There were 1,577 ballots cast. Four candidates vied for two four-year terms on the council. Terril Kay received 741 votes; Cory Johnson, 682; Daniel Erwin Prestwich, 638; and Byron Lewis, 473.
Kay and Johnson were sworn in as council members by Justice of the Peace Fred Peterson.