Kingman Council split on residency requirements
New Havasu resident Retersdorf wants to keep development/marketing role
KINGMAN - A discussion regarding appointments to a pair of city commissions revealed a sharply divided Council at last week's meeting.
The issues are many, but they boil down to a single question: Should someone that lives well outside of the Kingman city limits be allowed to serve on one of the City Council's boards or commissions?
Judging by the tie vote the question ultimately received from the City Council, the answer is, it depends.
Mark Retersdorf by all accounts has been a stellar member of the city's Economic Development and Marketing Commission.
He leads the Small Business Development Center at Mohave Community College and he lived in Kingman until his wife's employer transferred her to Lake Havasu City.
Retersdorf continues to commute for work, either to Kingman or several other locations in Mohave County, and his main office is in Kingman. Retersdorf offers free counseling to startup companies and struggling businesses.
"I think I have a lot to offer," he said. "Since I work in Kingman and I certainly want to help."
But he does not live within the city or the Greater Kingman Area, which is described as any area outside of the city limits that receives water service from the city or has a Kingman mailing address.
While city code allows for up to one-third of a board's membership to reside in the Greater Kingman Area, it is unclear whether people who clearly live outside of the area are prohibited from serving.
"The wording is not clear," said City Attorney Carl Cooper. "It's poorly defined."
Cooper said given the overly broad wording, which lists exceptions to the residency rules - such as a highly qualified applicant - but doesn't define how far away from the city they could live.
Cooper said he would rewrite the code to clarify the issue.
Mayor Janet Watson left no room for confusion regarding her stand, saying she served on city commissions for six years before she was elected in 2006 and it was her understanding applicants had to live either in the city or in the surrounding area to be eligible.
"You are exceptional," she told Retersdorf, who said he would remain available to the commission regardless of the Council's decision.
Councilwoman Jen Miles, however, said she would take talent wherever she finds it in this day and age and suggested the Council allow Retersdorf to remain on the commission.
Councilman Dick Anderson also said it seemed silly to force Retersdorf to leave the commission because of the move to Lake Havasu City, reasoning he still works in Kingman.
Watson and Councilwoman Erin Cochran took a different tack, saying the idea behind the boards and commissions is to give Kingman residents the opportunity to serve.
Unfortunately, this issue comes at a time when attracting Kingman residents to serve has proved difficult as there are several vacancies with nobody to fill them.
The Council ultimately voted on a suggestion made by Councilman Mark Wimpee that would allow Retersdorf to remain on the board until Cooper comes back with a revised city code.
The vote ended in a 3-3 tie, with Watson, Cochran and Councilman Larry Carver voting against Retersdorf remaining on the commission and Miles, Anderson and Wimpee to keep him on at least for the moment.
Watson suggested the Council postpone the discussion until Vice Mayor Carole Young, who had a planned absence from the meeting, can return when the Council next meets in two weeks.
The other appointment regards the Transit Advisory Commission, a seven-member board that currently has four vacancies.
While the City Council readily reappointed Pam Wilkinson to a second term and unanimously selected new member Cere Tabbert, they ran into the same issue with applicant Michele Walker as they had with Retersdorf.
Walker lives in Fort Mohave, but like Retersdorf she is highly qualified. She is the mobility manager for WACOG, the Western Arizona Council of Governments, which includes members from Mohave and La Paz counties.
Watson represents the City Council on WACOG. She was described as having "exceptional expertise" in transit issues. Also, no other candidates applied for a seat.
A decision on Walker, like Retersdorf, could come in two weeks when the City Council also will review Cooper's rewritten city code.