Safford council delays filling vacancy

David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central. The Safford City Council is pictured here during a meeting in March.

SAFFORD – Safford City Council will sit at six members . . . for now.

At Monday’s meeting, the council agreed to wait on appointing a new council member until April at the earliest, but more likely following the August primary election.

“I believe it’s the public that votes in the council and the mayor, and it’s the public that needs to be the one that puts that in, because (the election) is so close” Mayor Jason Kouts told Gila Valley Central.

The vacancy was created when Chris Taylor announced last weekend his resignation from the council following a relapse with substance abuse.

Kouts said the plan is to see how many people file papers to be a candidate for City Council in April.

“If we feel like, if it’s overwhelming that we may need to fill that vacancy quicker, we have that opportunity to,” Kouts said, “but even then, I would propose, we wait until the Aug. 4 election and see who is the front-runner that’s not already sitting (on council), and let that person come on.”

Three seats are up for election this year – the seat vacated by Taylor and those currently held by Mike Andazola and Vice Mayor Richard Ortega. The mayor is a separate election and is also up for election in 2020.

The deadline to submit nominating petitions is April 6, the primary election is Aug. 4 and, if any seat is not decided in the primary, the general election is Nov.  3.