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Council now must appoint mayor

by Brad FuquaWestern News
| November 12, 2008 11:00 PM

Now that Tony Berget is definitively going to become a Lincoln County commissioner, the Libby City Council must decide who will fill the mayor’s seat.

At least two current council members are interested in the job – Charlene Leckrone and Doug Roll. And although the council could appoint anyone from the community to the post, Berget said no one has really come forward to express an interest.

“I’d like to try it, I think I’d enjoy it,” said Roll, who has served on the city council since the summer of 2003. “I’ve dealt with a lot of this before and have enjoyed my position on the council.”

Leckrone could be a natural choice for mayor since she currently serves as council president and has filled Berget’s shoes in his absence.

“The opportunity presented itself and I think it would benefit the city,” Leckrone said when asked why she wanted the job. “I also have a different look on things because I have no agenda and I’m a woman.”

Berget said he plans to submit his letter of resignation effective Nov. 16. Bill Bischoff of the county personnel department said outgoing commissioner Rita Windom’s final day is Nov. 15.

When Berget is officially gone, the City Council will have 30 days to appoint a new mayor. A simple majority vote will settle the matter, although it’s unclear whether or not those up for the seat would have a vote themselves.

The county commissioners, meanwhile, have an item on the agenda for Wednesday involving the appointment of replacing Windom for the balance of her unexpired term. Berget’s own term officially begins in January.

Roll, 53, and Leckrone, 59, both see money and infrastructure as primary issues.

“The revenue issues that we have – and that ties into the infrastructure needs – those are the two biggest issues,” Roll said.

Berget served as mayor for 11 years and had to face tough issues in Libby over that timeframe. As a result, handling pressure is a big part of the job.

“Tony’s been eaten up and I have thought about that, thinking, geez, he really has gone through the ringer,” Leckrone said. “So yeah, you do have to have thick skin.”

Roll believes the process to select the new mayor should move along quickly after Berget’s departure. As of Friday, he wasn’t sure who else might be interested.

“It depends on how many people are involved,” Roll said about timing. “If we have just one person interested in the position, I imagine when Tony’s resignation becomes effective and he does take over as commissioner, then we’ll probably appoint somebody at that time. You don’t have to take the full 30 days.”

If Leckrone or Roll replaces Berget, then the city would have another 30 days to appoint a new city council member.

“I don’t think Doug and I want to fight over it at all so we’ll see what happens,” Leckrone said. “I haven’t really talked to him about it. We’ll see what happens.”

The current mayoral term expires in November of next year. That election will also include three city council seats due to expire – those now held by Leckrone, Walt McElmurry and Lee Bothman.