After the resignation of Mayor Dean Armstrong, Helper was forced to elect a new mayor before March 23, which came to a double tie Thursday night.
With a complete city water and sewer infrastructure beginning construction this spring, and a river restoration project in the future; electing a new mayor was not an anticipated task for the Helper City Council.
After Armstrong’s resignation, the Council needed to find a new leader who will spearhead the many projects facing the community. The process began with interested Helper residents submitting an application and their wish to fill the current term. Three applicants were received from Walter Borla, Kirk Mascaro and Edward Chavez Jr.
During Thursday’s open community meeting, the candidates were given a series of questions pertaining to their interest and qualifications for the position. The order of the candidates was chosen at random and the remaining two candidates were asked to wait in a different area of the Auditorium.
The questions asked were: Why do you want to be mayor of Helper City? What plans do you have for Helper City? What is the most important challenge facing the city? What is your opinion on the new water and sewer infrastructure project? What are your thoughts on raising the city’s water rates? What is your opinion on raising the river restoration project?
First candidate to be heard was Walter Borla. Borla, a lifetime resident of the community was pleased with the current direction of the city, but concerned for the current businesses and services who may be falling to to the wayside.
“The museum is in complete disarray,” Borla said. ” We need to get a professional displayer and someone to market the facility to attract tourists and traffic from the highway.”
If elected Borla wishes to make Helper a viable community making it economically possible for people to live in the city. He also wished to have a complete city infrastructure analysis completed to discover what areas needed improvement.
Next to be heard was city councilman, Kirk Mascaro. Also a long-time resident of the city, and city council member for thirteen years, he hoped to serve the city from an angle of experience.
“I care about Helper City and we have a lot going on right now,” said Mascaro.
Mascaro hoped to provide more housing if elected, and create a brighter future for the area’s children and grandchildren. Mascaro encouraged the community to support the city’s endeavors during these impending infrastructure improvements, and inevitable increased water rates.
“I was here when the project started, and it has been needed for over seventy years,” he said. ” I support it.”
Last to come before the council was Edward Chavez. Born in Helper, with fifteen years of experience as a Wellington City councilman, Chavez hoped to use his knowledge of grant writing, and resourcful nature to aide the city in this time of improvements.
“I know where to look for business development and city infrastructure grants,” Chavez said. “I want to work hard to also keep our police force running properly. We have the best in the area.”
Chavez felt the city needed to attract the younger generation, and resurrect the thriving Helper from his youth.
“I feel the river project is a good idea to bring tourism and money to Helper. The city will be put on the map because of it,” he said.
After the answers of the candidates were considered, the four council members voted for whom they wanted to sit as council head and leader of the community until January 2014. All votes were placed in a bowl and drawn and read aloud by City Recorder Jona Skerl.
Attendants were not surprised to find a tie with two votes for Ed Chavez and two votes for Kirk Mascaro.
“I think it would be a severe disservice to put the fate of our mayor to a coin toss,” said Councilman Robert Bradley. “We have two very qualified candidates before us.”
After further discussion and consideration the council voted once again, with the same results.
Left to no other option, both Mascaro and Chavez’s names were placed in a bowl, with the new Mayor chosen by the hand of City Attorney, Gene Strait.
Ed Chavez was the name drawn and will be the new mayor of Helper for the existing term.
“I would like to thank all of you for applying,” said Councilman Jason Llewellyn. “You are both seasoned applicants.”
Chavez will be sworn in on Friday, March 15 at 11a.m. in Helper City Hall.