In a Special Meeting Wednesday held in the afternoon of September 18th, 2019 the Ely City Council accepted the resignation of Councilmember Tony DeFelice. The owner of Hunter’s Cafe on Aultman Street had held seat 3 since being elected in March of 2017. DeFelice submitted his letter of resignation to Mayor Nathan Robertson last week. Since not enough members were present at last week’s scheduled City Council meeting, tonight’s special meeting agenda made way for removing DeFelice and appointing his replacement.
Two names, Michelle Beecher and Ed Spear were presented as possible candidates for the vacated seat 3, with Mayor Robertson nominating Beecher and Councilmember Ernie Flangas proposing Spear.
Both candidates spoke before Mayor Robertson and the council. Beecher, who ran for city council in the last election carrying 362 votes, right behind Jim Allworth’s 397, advocated herself as serving the city being involved with economic development, “I feel strongly about rural Nevada and what it’s capable of. I am wholeheartedly ready to take on the challenge.”
Councilmember Kurt Carson questioned her capabilities, “I think you would be a good fit up here on the council, but you probably have one of the toughest jobs in this room, that of raising a family, so I am wondering, no disrespect, do you have the time to really commit to this?” Allworth seconded the concern over devoting enough time as someone managing a family.
Beecher answered, “You want something done, you ask someone who is busy. I know how to prioritize… I make sure I get my kids to where they need to be and I make sure my job gets done well.” Beecher continued to respond to questions about her abilities in regard to developing Ely’s economic future, “We need to encourage current and new business owners, as a counselor with the small business development center, I know how to get in there and help people because it is very hard to start a small business.” Flangas attacked Beecher over an uncut yard earlier in the summer. After Beecher clarified Flangas’ concerns, Spear spoke about his time on the council seven years ago and his intentions for the seat.
Spear ran for mayor in the June election earning 235 votes against Robertson’s 527. During his speech Spear advocated for pushing back against the county’s requisition of Ely residents’ ad valorem taxes, to bring in more revenue directly to the city. Spear directed his attention to those taxes, “Ely has been short changed for over 20 years. Not a single penny comes back to city coffers to upgrade, manage or maintain the city of Ely. The only City in the State of Nevada…So whether through legislation or litigation we need to change that… I think there’s a strong case… We’re being cheated and need to correct that and bring more money into our own coffers.” Allworth then questioned Spear about his aggressive history.
Allworth asked Spear, “How would you do working with Tour and Rec, would there be a complication there?” Spear reassured the council, “I spent more money promoting tourism. I maintain that… I’m involved in tourism. I think the revenue streams need to be looked at and I’d strongly support that.
Following the speeches and questioning of the candidates, Mayor Robertson advocated against Spear’s appointment, saying, “I stated when I ran, that I would like the council to be able to take more than just retired people, it is a part time position and should be open to all the good people in our community, whether they have families or anything else.. I’d like us to cater to more than just people who have nothing but time to offer.” After Allworth spoke in favor of Spear a motion was called for.
Flangas made the motion to appoint Spear. Sam Hanson seconded. Mayor Robertson voted no. Carson, Allworth, Flangas, Hanson with the ⅘ majority voted in favor of Spear.
Spear responded to his appointment saying he will be absent for the next two City Council meetings.