KINGMAN - Tensions flared as the Mohave County Planning and Zoning Commission considered changing the selection process for chairman and vice chairman at their meeting Wednesday afternoon.
The commission voted 4-2 in favor of amending the commission bylaws to change the selection process from an annual election to a rotating basis, switching from district to district each year.
Commissioner Syd Ervin, who made the motion in favor of the amendment, added the stipulation that if no commissioners from a given district wanted either position, it would rotate to the following district.
The vote was fractured, though it favored Districts 2 and 3. Rodney Burgess was the only commissioner from either of those two district to vote against the amendment. Chairman Earl Hamlin was the only District 1 commissioner to vote no.
The two other District 1 commissioners didn't vote. Bill Abbott abstained from voting and Joe Bibich was not present.
Hamlin argued with his colleagues that changing to a rotational basis went against the democratic process.
"We have a rotation system right now," Hamlyn said. "A person can run and get elected, and a person can not run and not get elected, and it rotates all the time."
Vice Chairman and District 3 Commissioner Carl Flusche countered Hamlyn's claim, noting that Hamlyn himself had served as chairman for the past seven years.
"As long as I've been on this commission, the chairman has always been from District 1," Flusche said.
"And in the past, it hasn't been," Hamlyn countered.
Hamlyn further argued that had the rotation come to his district just after he joined the commission, he would have refused the position due to a lack of experience. Abbott echoed this sentiment, pointing to himself as a current example.
"There are going to be people who might be good decision makers, but they're not good chairmen or vice chairmen, they don't want to be chairmen," Abbott said. "I don't care to be chairman or vice chairman."
Ervin countered this, saying everyone on the commission was qualified to serve as chairman, regardless of time served.
"The experience thing, I don't think should really enter into it because every one of us that sits on this commission has been involved in other organizations that use Robert's Rules," Ervin said. "I mean, how much experience do you need?"
District 2 Commissioner J. B. Wise suggested that, when rotating districts, the vice chairman could become chairman and the next district on the rotation would select the new vice chairman. This, he said, would mitigate any fears of lack of experience and would fit with the commission's current make up.
Burgess said he feared the discussion was pitting districts against one another when the commission should be focused on the county as a whole.
"Nowhere in America do we need to say 'the president needs to come from this state this year and from this state next year and that state next year,'" he said. "We don't need to do that. We represent a whole county, we don't just represent a district. I don't think we need to be torn apart by this."
Hamlyn agreed, saying that in his time as chairman, he always focused on the items on the agenda and not the districts they were located in.
"I voted for as many things in Havasu and Bullhead as I have in Kingman and vice-versa," he said. "I think by having the districts on a rotating basis it puts kind of a wedge between everybody. I just don't agree with that."