Riverton City Council member Eric Heiser is presented with a watch at his last meeting Tuesday night. Mayor Ron Warpness asked Lars Baker to make the presentation to Heiser, as they are the two longest serving council members. A short time later, Baker also announced his resignation from the council. (Ernie Over photo) 

(Riverton, Wyo.) – The Riverton City Council now has two vacancies. Tuesday’s meeting was the last for Ward 1 Council Member Eric Heiser, who earlier announced he would be resigning as he has taken a new job at Salt Lake Community College in Utah and would be moving from the community. During the meeting Heiser was honored and presented with a “retirement” watch. A short time later, Ward 3 council member John “Lars” Baker announced Tuesday night would also be his last, maybe.

“My last one,” Heiser said during closing council member comments. “My thanks to the entire city staff, it has been a great ride. I can’t believe how long its been, honestly.” First appointed to the council nine years ago, and then re-elected twice, Heiser said his service, “through trial and tribulation,has been a huge learning experience. I hope we get a lot of applciatants from Ward 1 to take my place and then run again. The number one way to be active in your community is public service, and it’s been a truly humbling but most rewarding experience. I’m incredibly proud to have been part of it.”

Baker

Baker

Next to speak was Baker, who said he found himself in a challenging situation. Just this week Baker retired from his position as director of Fremont County Weed and Pest. “In preparing for that change in status, I discovered that I will have to resign from the City Council,” he said. “Both the City of Riverton and Fremont County Weed and Pest are covered by the Wyoming State Retirement System and state law stipulates that to retire, I must sever all ties to any and all covered entities. There does not seem to be any alternative. So, effective at the close of business this evening, December 17th, I am resigning my seat.”

Baker however, said he had hoped that in retirement, “I could better fulfill my council duties.” Since state law requires that he resign, Baker then announced that he would like to be reappointed to his council seat after 30 days, the waiting period set out by state statutes. “Tonight’s meeting is the last regular council meeting in December. If the council announced the vacancy at the next regular meeting on January 7th, and advertised for replacements to be consider at the next regular council meeting scheduled for January 21st, the required 30 day separation from service would be met.”

Baker also said reappointment is not guaranteed as other candidates could come forward from Ward 3 and that he would have to be selected from that field. “It is imperative that the process be open in every way and that every person eligible to serve who has a desire to do so is given consideration and the best candidate be selected,” he said.

With the two vacancies, City Administrator Steven Weaver said the replacement process would begin after the first of the  year.

In an earlier interview with County10.com, and speaking on Heiser’s resignation, he said the council would have to declare the seat vacant, solicit applicants, interview them and then select a replacement who would then take a seat on the council. The council will now have to declare two vacant seats and, for at least the next month to six weeks, the council will be down from seven to five members.