City Council members have long known that there are going to be questions and things that need explaining as the city shifts to a mayoral form of government and a new way of doing things.
One of those such situations arose during council's regular meeting Monday night when City Council members were weighing whether to confirm Mayor Nick Gradisar's first department director nomination he's made in his term.
Council has the power of confirming or rejecting Gradisar's choices for all city department heads, but there was some uncertainty about what council members should be considering, as well as what they have the authority to consider, when confirming Gradisar's selections.
Council President Dennis Flores posed the question as to what the scope of council's authority is when considering Gradiar's appointments to City Attorney Dan Kogovsek, who explained the process to everyone thoroughly.
"The way that the charter was amended is to provide that these appointments are made at the discretion of the mayor," Kogovsek told council members. "You have since passed an ordinance laying out the confirmation process. In the confirmation process your review is limited to is the mayor's appointee qualified for this position? You're not allowed to second-guess or suggest other people.
"The mayor is within his rights to pick his team to run the city. So it would be only in the event that an applicant, a nominee, an appointee is unqualified that council under our ordinance could object and vote no. The mayor gets to put together those people he wants to help him run the city."
Before the city switched from a city manager-council form of government to a mayor-council format, the city manager had unilateral power to hire any city department head without council's permission, with the exception of the municipal judge.
Flores said he is in favor of giving Gradisar the autonomy of building his own team, but added that a situation could arise where council decides someone the mayor appoints as a department head isn't a good choice. That was not the case with Gradisar's nomination for public works director on Monday as council considered and confirmed Sam Vigil for the position unanimously.
"We have to give the mayor the ability to select his team," Flores said on Friday. "He is going to be judged by the community on how effective he is."