Otho appoints Rob Ewing to City Council

OTHO – Rob Ewing was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Otho City Council Tuesday night.

The council also scheduled a special meeting for 7 p.m. July 22 to appoint a new mayor.

The council seat was left open by council member Gary Fox’s sudden resignation on June 13.

Former Mayor Joe Hays also resigned as of July 1. No explanation has been given for either resignation.

Ewing and Alice Smith Watters both sent the council letters expressing interest in the council position. They spoke Tuesday on why they should be appointed.

Ewing said he’s lived in Otho since 1959.

“I have run a business in town, and I run a small repair shop yet,” he said. “I have been too busy to get involved, but now this time things are slow, and I do have time to get involved.”

Smith Watters, an Otho resident since 1983, had similar reasons.

“I like the town, but I’ve never done anything to actually help promote the town. I’ve always been busy,” she said. “I’ve had jobs where I traveled. I thought now would be a good opportunity to put something forward and help the community.”

Otho resident Kim Bloomquist spoke in favor of Ewing.

“I would like to see him on the council. I think he would do a good job,” Bloomquist said. “He’s been a pillar of community. He’s lived here his whole life, raised all his children here, loves the city of Otho. He’s stepping up to help.”

Bloomquist was the only resident who spoke.

The City Council members hadn’t heard the names before Tuesday night’s meeting, and said either person would be a good choice.

“It’s hard for us to sit here and say,” said councilman Brant Farrand, who served as the meeting chair.

“Our biggest fear is hurting somebody’s feelings,” Jeff Roach added.

The four council members Farrand, Roach, Sherry Ackerman and Jimmy Beckman wrote names on slips of paper and handed them to Farrand. The vote was 3 for Ewing, 1 for Smith Watters.

The council then voted unanimously to appoint Ewing to the council. He was sworn in immediately by city clerk Glenda Rasmussen.

The council decided to appoint a mayor in special session, instead of waiting for the August meeting, because Fox had been mayor pro tem.

“The League (of Cities)’s advice was to fill it as soon as we can,” Rasmussen said.

Only the mayor can appoint a mayor pro tem.

Rasmussen will now accept letters from Otho residents interested in the position up until 4 p.m. July 17.

After the appointment is made, citizens of Otho can petition to hold a special election for mayor instead, Rasmussen said.

The petition would need at least 10 valid signatures, and more would be better in case some were deemed invalid, she said. Valid signatures must come from residents of Otho who are registered to vote.

A special election would cost the taxpayers about $1,500 to $2,000, she said.

Bloomquist said she didn’t know who might step up to take the mayor position, but there was a lot of interest in the issue throughout Otho.

“There’s a lot of concern with what’s going on in the city,” she said.

Beckman had no other information about the resignations.

“I don’t think anybody knows what’s going on,” he said.

“Nobody knows anything. That’s the whole thing,” Farrand said. “I haven’t talked to Gary or the mayor. … I just wish they would speak.”

Farrand said he hopes several people step up to try out for mayor. It’s an important role; serving in small-town government comes with challenges.

“You’re in a small town. It’s hard to please everybody,” he said. “Everyone has their own opinion. No one agrees on everything.”