Councilmember Kristjansson Prepares to Appoint New Planning Commissioner

City council member Susan Kristjansson announced last evening that she plans to appoint a new member to the city's Planning Commission, ...

City council member Susan Kristjansson announced last evening that she plans to appoint a new member to the city's Planning Commission, perhaps as early as January 19th.

The appointment is to replace existing commissioner Marc Miller, who was previously appointed by the late councilman Fred Twyman. When Kristjansson took over Twyman's seat, she explained she would reevaluate Miller's position on the Commission and decide on either letting him continue serving or replacing him. At the city council meeting last evening, Kristjansson announced that she will be replacing Miller.

The Planning Commission is a five-member body of residents who have the power to approve or deny commercial and residential developments in the city, among other powers. Each city council member appoints one member to the Commission, and that member remains on the Commission for as long as his/her appointing council member remains seated as well.

Questions arose however, on what happens to a planning commissioner when his/her appointing council member leaves office before their term expires, in this case due to death. City Attorney Joseph Fletcher had reviewed city ordinance along with state law and case law, and advised that Kristjansson held the right to replace Miller.

Two audience members at last night's council meeting, Greg August and Ann Pica, argued against Kristjansson's ability to replace Miller, and questioned why she would want to replace him. Council members Tom Fuhrman and Wallace Edgerton aligned their arguments with August and Pica, reiterating similar points.

"I did not do this without consideration, I took over five months as a matter of fact", Kristjansson explained in response council member Wallace Edgerton's comments that he had no knowledge she would be looking to replace Miller. "I attended Planning Commission meetings, I observed, I met with other people, there are other people in this community who want to participate as well who are quite capable of doing so."

Fuhrman had argued that "The city council intended that removal rights are vested into the appointing city council member, even if he has vacated the office", going on to suggest that because Tywman died in office, Kristjansson has no ability to replace Miller.

"That's an irrational and illogical interpretation of the law" city attorney Fletcher argued back, who went on to add that Fuhrman's argument would allow someone who was recalled or removed from office to retain some power over his/her replacement.

"The Supreme Court has ruled on this a number of times" Fletcher continued. "You have to read the case law, the State law, and the city ordinance, together, and make the most rational, and logical interpretation. Therefore, my opinion is that council member Kristjansson has the right to remove the planning commissioner."

Diving further into the discussion, Kristjansson went on to charge, while looking at council member Edgerton, that there had been a campaign to stop her from replacing Miller on the Planning Commission, suggesting that a handful of residents and council members have conspired against her.

"I'm a little puzzled on why you would address that to me", Edgerton replied, who went on to question the timing of her decision with regards to the General Plan discussions. "I don't know what you're talking about" he added. "I don't know anything about a campaign."

Greg August charged in his public comments towards Kristjansson that she was "...very political, self-serving, and even worse, insensitive to the Twyman family".

Kristjansson answered in response, "To assume that Fred Twyman would want me to cookie-cutter his decisions is... I can't believe that. Everything I understand about Fred Twyman is he would want people to speak their mind and operate from their own opinions."

"To throw that at me is a little bit low", Kristjansson continued. "I didn't look at Fred Twyman's pick, I looked at what I believe is right."