CHEYENNE – The Cheyenne City Council approved two mayoral appointments to the Downtown Development Authority board on Monday.
Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr recommended current board member Bruce Heimbuck and first-time appointee Craig Kerrigan, CEO of Cheyenne State Bank. Both will serve a four-year term.
There’s still one open seat on the nine-person volunteer board, but Orr said she needs more time to interview candidates before making a recommendation. Applicants include Tony Covello with Wells Fargo Bank, Breck Collier, owner of downtown’s Red Bison Home and Councilman Pete Laybourn.
Although the DDA board asked Orr to reappoint Board President Alane West in May, Orr said there were a number of other qualified candidates this time around, especially as the two groups move forward with a newly signed memorandum of understanding.
“Some new perspective on the board, I think, would certainly be beneficial,” Orr said.
While hesitant to comment directly on the mayor’s decision, West defended her decades of experience as a project manager and developer in both Wyoming and California. She’s also a founder and co-chair of Friends of the Atlas and serves on the Unaccompanied Students Initiative leadership team.
“My comments could affect my efforts on other volunteer projects,” she said. “Therefore they can only be from a perspective developed over 30 years of building successful collaborative teams for large, multi-million dollar projects reporting to boards of University of Southern California, University of California-Irvine, Orange County California Board of Supervisors and Sisters of Charity – to name a few.”
She said board appointments should be made in the best interest of an organization, not simply to make a point. Orr proposed deep cuts to the agency this year, prompting renewed tensions.
“When appointments become a negotiating chip for ambitious political purposes, or retaliation for expressing views based on fact and experience, then the effectiveness of the board will decline,” West said.
Both DDA Executive Director Vicki Dugger and Board Vice President Astrid said West was a dedicated volunteer.
“I would say she gave close to 100 hours a month of her own time, and I don’t know of any organization that would have a mega-volunteer like that,” Astrid said. “She will be missed, but I will trust our mayor to appoint other folks who want to give that much heart, soul and time to help us.”
To some, Orr’s move is another blow to a group that will already receive 25% less funding this year. To others, it’s a chance for the board to meet growing expectations with a new outlook.
Jeff White, council’s liaison to the DDA, hopes the new appointments will help the board meet ongoing challenges.
“I’m glad she did reappoint Mr. Heimbuck,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, but a new perspective is something that’s always needed.”