Bare majority goes along with commission’s recommendation; Bachman to resign from city budget committee
By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news
After lengthy discussion about the process of vetting Parks & Recreation Commission candidates, the Ashland City Council voted 3-2 by secret ballot to elect Jim Bachman to the Parks & Recreation Commission in their regular session held via Zoom on Tuesday night.
The vote fills the vacancy left by the resignation of Mike Gardiner in January.
Bachman currently serves on the city’s budget committee but told Ashland.news via text message he plans to resign from the city post on Wednesday. Parks & Recreation Commissioners selected Bachman as their top recommendation, out of eight total applicants. Commissioners also listed two finalists — Kerry KenCairn and Eric Hansen — to fulfill the council’s direction to forward three candidates for council consideration. Hansen received two votes by councilors, with three votes going to Bachman.
“We had one candidate that stood out,” said Rick Landt, chair of the Parks & Recreation Commission. “And that’s why, although we did do what we asked us to, which was to give you three candidates … we unanimously recommended that Jim Bachman be appointed based on both his experience in the written application and also his knowledge and understanding that he exhibited during the interview process.”
Bachman ran for Parks & Recreation Commission in 2018 and lost, a point that Councilor Gina DuQuenne brought to councilors’ attention.
Councilor Stefani Seffinger suggested that this shouldn’t disqualify an individual from a Parks & Recreation post.
“In this instance, I feel that it would be disrespectful to Parks not to accept that they have carefully vetted the candidates and are suggesting to us the ones they feel most qualified,” Seffinger said.
In providing context for the vetting process by Parks & Recreation commissioners, Councilor Tonya Graham described the “unique relationship” that the Ashland City Council and the Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission have.
Graham said the Parks Commission is “their own elected body,” as is the council, but that operationally, it sits within the city’s infrastructure.
“I think it was that reasoning that put in place this vetting process that Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission has faithfully gone through,” Graham said. “I think it’s important to remember that the people of Ashland have voted in the other Ashland Parks & Recreation Commissioners, so … their recommendation is coming from an elected body.”
In order to follow the city charter, which states that the appointment must be made through an election, the vote was taken privately during the meeting. Each councilor submitted their vote to City Recorder Melissa Huhtala in a private chat message.
The votes were not shared publicly during the meeting. City Recorder Melissa Huhtala shared the votes Wednesday morning with Ashland.news: Councilors Graham, Paula Hyatt and Seffinger cast votes for Bachman; Councilors Shaun Moran and DuQuenne voted for Eric Hansen.
Hike in trash hauling rate voted down
In other council business, Mayor Julie Akins cast the deciding vote to vote down a request to approve a 6.5% rate increase for users of Ashland Recology, in response to more than 7% in rising inflation rates nationally. Akins only did so after technical difficulties made Councilor Stefani Seffinger unable to participate by Zoom or by phone
City Councilors Moran and DuQuenne voted against the price hike, the first in two years, while Councilors Graham and Hyatt voted in favor. The hike, intended to keep up with an increase in the consumer price index, would have amounted to $1.38 per month for the typical residential customer.
City Hall is scheduled to open to the public on Monday, March 21, after being closed due to pandemic regulations since 2020, according to City Manager Joe Lessard.
Reach Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth at email@example.com.
March 16 update: Vote tally on Parks & Recreation appointment added.