Charles Rostocil chosen as Hubbard mayor
Following a recent string of elected officials resigning from city roles, the Hubbard City Council on Tuesday night appointed three residents to fill its vacant positions, including the mayor position.
Charles Rostocil is now mayor of Hubbard, and James Audritsh and Michelle Luna are now city councilors.
The two remaining elected councilors — Angie Wheatcroft and Barbara Ruiz — made the appointments.
The city council opened the application process beginning last Tuesday. According to Wheatcroft, a total of seven people applied for the three roles.
The goal of the appointments, according to Wheatcroft, was moving the city forward from some recent controversies that ultimately led to the resignation of the majority of the city's elected officials.
Much of the controversy stems from the city council's consideration of contracting policing services to the Marion County Sheriff's Office. That potential cost-saving measure would have effectively dismantled the Hubbard Police Department, which as of this summer had two officers.
The department has been without a permanent police chief since October 2016, when Dave Dryden retired from the role after nearly 30 years in the department.
The city council began considering the MCSO contract last spring, and the move prompted residents to start a "Save Our Hubbard Police" campaign in response.
Although the city council voted in July to move forward with the hiring of a police chief — a motion that ended the discussion of contracting with MCSO — the controversy continued. Recall petitions began, accusing then-Mayor Thia Estes and then-Councilor Bradley Williams of "crippling our effective police department."
In late September, Estes resigned, followed closely by councilors Shannon Schmidt and Williams.
Wheatcroft said that Rostocil, the new mayor, has attended meetings throughout the "whole nine months" that the council has dealt with the issue of policing in the small city.
"I think that he was a reasonable voice through all this turmoil," Wheatcroft said. "I think you're a great person who could do a really good job leading our city," Wheatcroft continued, addressing Rostocil.
Rostocil said at the meeting that he grew up in Aurora and has lived in Hubbard for 13 years.
He works at Intel in a role that he said at the meeting is essentially a project manager position.
Rostocil addressed the meeting's attendants.
"I am a neutral party in this. I will not shy away from the fact that I did support the HPD, and I was vocal about their support, but I took it with a discussion," Rostocil said.
Rostocil said he didn't support the recall campaigns against Estes and Williams. "I felt at that point in time it was vindictive to go off and do that," Rostocil said.
He emphasized that he is not coming into the role with any particular plans or goals, except for moving forward from the controversy.
"Anyone who's appointed to the council this evening, whether it's mayor or the two vacant spots here, has no political mandate from the popular vote. And they shouldn't seek that type of popular mandate," Rostocil said. "We can help bring this city together and make this city again what it is ... The hostility we've seen, the divisiveness we've seen, I don't care what side you're on, it's time to stop."
Wheatcroft and Ruiz appointed James Audritsh and Michelle Luna to the two vacant council seats.
Audritsh and Luna also spoke briefly to the attendees.
"I have been in business my whole life. I'm an admin, I've managed people my whole life," Luna said. "I was on the fire board as well," referring to the Hubbard Rural Fire Protection District's board.
Audritsh, a police officer and fire fighter, said he's lived in Hubbard for 30 years and spent about 20 years as a reserve officer for the Hubbard Police Department.
"I am very passionate about the Hubbard Police," Audritsh said. "Am I happy about the way it's gone since October? No. I wish we could have made some more proactive steps."
Matt Kennedy, a former city councilor who was a vocal proponent of contracting police services with MCSO, spoke at the meeting to say he appreciated the appointment of Rostocil, but found it troubling that both city councilors were supporters of the "Save Our Hubbard Police" campaign.
"You're picking from your neighborhood and your close group of friends who you feel would be appropriate, and I don't fault you for that," Kennedy said. "But at the beginning of the meeting you said you wanted to pick people who didn't have an agenda and who would be unbiased ... These are all very strong proponents of HPD."
Wheatcroft said the council wanted to "move the process along" quickly so that there would be more than two councilors making decisions. "We don't feel that's a fair process. People are going to complain if we bring people on, people are going to complain if it's just the two of us," Wheatcroft said.
Audritsh was appointed to Williams' vacant seat and will serve through 2020. Luna was appointed to Schmidt's vacant seat and will serve through 2018. The mayor's term will also last through 2018.