ALAMOSA — Kristina Daniel will rejoin the Alamosa city council tonight but in a different post.
The city council Tuesday night selected Daniel to fill the at-large vacancy created when Ty Coleman was elected mayor last month. Daniel will fill out his unexpired term. She will take her oath of office during tonight’s city council meeting.
Daniel had lost her re-election campaign for her Ward 2 seat to David Broyles by one vote. Broyles spoke in her favor Tuesday night and said she brought quality skills to the council. He said it was obvious Daniel had a lot of support in Ward 2.
Mayor Coleman commended Broyles for showing courage and integrity in recommending Daniel for the position. Broyles responded, “I am always looking for the best person.”
Daniel was one 11 candidates interviewed by city council Tuesday night. The city had initially received letters of interest from 13 city residents, but Heather Hixson withdrew from the running on December 8 and Michael Stefano on Tuesday.
Besides Daniel, those interviewed for the council vacancy on Tuesday included John Adams, Shirley Adcock, Darrel Cooper, Martin Diaz, Josef Lucero, Pete Magee, Rob Oringdulph, Leland Romero, Lori Smith and Josh Wehe.
The city councilors said they had a tough decision choosing from among the well-qualified candidates. They encouraged those who were not chosen to seek other city board placements and to run for office in the future.
“It is clear they love this community and want it to go forward,” Councilman Charles Griego said. He added that he has worked with 50 councilors over the years, and the group of candidates who spoke to the council Tuesday night was a good group.
Councilman Michael Carson said he had held the position that the person who filled the vacancy should not be someone who lost his or her election, but the fact that Daniel lost the election by only one vote meant many people in her ward wanted her to continue serving on the council.
Griego said on the other hand, putting the person who lost right back on council sent a message to all those who did not vote for her that their opinion did not matter.
Carson said Daniel made a good point in her interview that there was a different level of commitment for someone who campaigned for a council seat, like she had, compared to someone who submitted a letter of interest for it. “She did hit the pavement,” Carson said.
Councilor Liz Thomas Hensley added that there was an opportunity in this election for people to run for an at-large council seat, because Vigil’s at-large seat was up for re-election. Vigil ran unopposed. Hensley said Daniel has a great track record, which is a plus.
She added that the decision was not an easy choice, however, because each candidate had something to offer, and she believed anyone on the list could do a great job.
Coleman said he tried to look at the applicants from a clean-slate perspective and took into consideration their letters of interest, input he received from the community and the interviews, particularly noting if candidates were prepared.
Councilman Jan Vigil said he appreciated candidates who supported the city’s comprehensive plan and wanted to get things done. He described the ethnic and gender diversity of the council and said the council needed to take into consideration the candidate who would represent a group that might not yet be represented on the diverse council. He also asked if the candidate should be from the southern part of town, since most of the councilors were not at this point. Broyles said the at-large councilor needs to represent the entire town, as Councilor Vigil is doing as an at-large representative.
Following the interviews on Tuesday, the council held a special meeting, which had been noticed for 9:15 p.m. so the council had to wait until that time even though the interviews were concluded early. During the meeting the councilors voted for their top four choices on ballots, and the results were tabulated, with Daniel receiving the most points.
During her interview Daniel answered four questions, as did all of the candidates. The four questions asked about the candidate’s vision for the city; what the city is doing right and what could be improved; what the candidate thought about the city infrastructure; and to provide an example of how the candidate had handled conflict and differing opinions in the past. The candidates were then given a chance to add other thoughts, with each candidate given a total time of 15 minutes to answer the questions and make comments.
Daniel had said her vision for Alamosa was a place where all community members felt welcome. She also wanted to see greater economic development both in providing incentives for new business as well as supporting and cultivating what already exists here.
She said the city does many things well so it was hard to narrow that down, but she believed the city had strong programs like parks/recreation and strong departments like the public works department. The city could improve its transparency efforts and letting people know what’s going on, she said, perhaps in hosting more community forums.
Regarding infrastructure, Daniel said she would like to see some façade improvement and a town that is more pedestrian friendly.
Regarding conflict resolution, Daniel said she believed in listening to both sides.
Caption: Kristina Daniel interviews for the vacancy on Alamosa city council Tuesday night The council selected her after interviewing 11 candidates./Courier photo by Ruth Heide