Those seeking to be the newest member of the Sedona Fire District Governing Board will now have to wait a little longer to see who’s chosen.
Eight candidates were scheduled to be interviewed on Tuesday, Jan. 30, but as of press time a date to reschedule those interviews had not been chosen.
SFD attorney Bill Whittington said the decision to postpone the interviews was based on a concern of possibly violating
open meeting laws.
“I noticed the agenda did not provide for interviews to take place in public, just that the decision was to be made in public,” he said. “We learned that at least one applicant wanted their interview in public, which they have the right to ask for. So, I recommended to the board that they postpone the meeting so that the agenda could be modified to properly reflect the possibility of one or more interviews occurring in public.”
Whittington said applicants can let the board know up to the time of their interview if they wish to hold it in public and not in executive session. Since it will be agendized, the applicants will not be asked when rescheduling their appointment, which they prefer.
It’s the board’s prerogative to hold all the interviews in public or private but this board has chosen to do it in executive session, which Whittington said is common practice.
The eight vying for the position include Robert Albrecht, Doris Granatowski, Dwight Kadar, Eugene McCarthy, Mike Schroeder, Steve Segner, Bert Tibbet and Anthony Tonsich.
“The board was disappointed we could not proceed yesterday. However, given the advice of counsel there was no acceptable course forward,” Chairman Ty Montgomery said. “We are working to reschedule the interviews and accommodate all the applicants.”
In December, SFD Governing Board Treasurer Corrie Cooperman announced that she will be resigning from the board to move to Tucson with her husband. She said she will stay on the board until Wednesday, Feb. 28, unless her position is filled prior to that date. Her term ends November 2018, but the person who fills her spot would have the opportunity to run for a four-year term.
Filling a vacancy has been fairly common for the board over the last few years. In 2015, Scott Jablow stepped down to run for Sedona City Council and was replaced by David Soto. Nazih Hazime stepped down to focus more on his duties as chief of the Verde Valley Fire District in 2015 and was replaced by Tim Ernster. Diane Schoen moved from Sedona and was replaced by Abe Koniarsky in 2016.
Board members receive no financial benefits. Meetings, which normally begin at 4:30 p.m., are typically held on the third Wednesday of each month, usually at Station No. 1 in West Sedona. Additional workshops and meetings may be held, as needed, but particularly during the annual budget preparation process.
As a member of the board, duties include, but are not limited to: Attendance at meetings, review and approval of fire board policies, working with SFD staff in the preparation and approval of the annual budget, annual evaluation of the fire chief and working as a team with the fire chief, SFD staff and community members in the best interests of the fire district.
Those who applied were required to be registered voters living within the Sedona Fire District boundaries. This includes West Sedona, Uptown, Village of Oak Creek, Chapel area, Oak Creek Canyon and Red Rock Loop area. Additional consideration may be given to individuals with past local government experience, proven understanding of Arizona Open Meeting and public record laws, budgeting and financing experience in special taxing districts, prior board experience with other special taxing districts, background and understanding of fire and life safety and emergency medical services, availability of time and willingness to participate, length of residency in Sedona Fire District, absence of known conflicts of interest and related concerns.