Grand Lake appoints mayor pro tem in 4-1 decision |

Grand Lake appoints mayor pro tem in 4-1 decision

Grand Lake Trustee Ernie Bjorkman emcees the 2021 Buffalo Days parade on Aug. 22, 2021, in downtown Grand Lake. On Monday, the board of trustees appointed Bjorkman to serve as mayor pro tem.
Eli Pace /

The Grand Lake Board of Trustees selected Trustee Ernie Bjorkman to serve as mayor pro tem on Monday, though at least one trustee protested the decision.

The resignation of Jonah Landy, sparked by a move outside town limits, created the opening. Many small-town appointments go unchallenged with easy, unanimous decisions, but before Bjorkman’s appointment, Trustee Tom Bruton tried unsuccessfully to put Trustee Cindy Southway in the role.

Bruton said he had spoken with Southway, who was unable to attend Monday’s board meeting, and that she had told him she would be interested in serving as mayor pro tem, a position that guides town meetings when the mayor is absent.

Bruton highlighted Southway’s service on numerous boards and committees as good reasons for her selection.

After serving as the financial trustee, “she knows finances” and “she knows pretty much everything that goes on here,” Burton added, as he explained why he believed Southway would be an asset as mayor pro tem.

Other trustees weren’t as convinced. Trustee Michael Arntson, who recently took over as financial trustee, said he believed that Southway was looking to take on fewer responsibilities this spring.

Grand Lake Mayor Steve Kudron also said that Southway was aware of the agenda item and hadn’t spoken to him prior to the meeting.

“You don’t talk to her as much as I do,” Bruton replied.

Before Bruton suggested Southway for the position, Kudron had detailed a number of reasons he thought Bjorkman would be a great fit for the role, including Bjorkman’s commitment to the town, his reasonableness and his current service on the planning commission. Kudron also said he believes that Bjorkman fully intends to serve out the rest of his full four-term.

“He has pretty much stayed away from the political fray that has been a part of our town over the last few months, and I seem to find that a positive trait as well,” Kudron said before Bruton motioned to appoint Southway.

But there was no second to Bruton’s motion, and Southway’s nomination didn’t get a vote. Trustee Fawn Calvin-Braley then motioned to appoint Bjorkman. After a pause and some discussion about Bjorkman seconding the motion, Arntson stepped in and seconded the motion himself.

Bruton asked if trustees could table the measure until Southway was able to be there, but Kudron responded that there had been a motion and a second. He told the board the law dictates the town must appoint a replacement mayor pro tem as soon as possible, and that it was time to vote.

Calvin-Braley, Arntson, Kudron and Bjorkman voted in favor of appointing Bjorkman. Bruton cast the lone vote against.

Because Grand Lake trustees meet on the second and fourth Mondays of each month, their next meeting won’t be until Sept. 13.

In other business:

• The Grand Arts Council requested a fee waiver for its November craft fair, and trustees were agreeable to the request.

• Trustees approved a facility use agreement with American Red Cross so the organization can use the Grand Lake Center as a disaster response center or shelter in case of an emergency.

• The town awarded Acord Asphalt a roughly $300,000 contract for repaving work later this fall and next spring when weather permits. Plans are to repave Grand Avenue, Center Drive and Rainbow Bridge.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

The Sky-Hi News strives to deliver powerful stories that spark emotion and focus on the place we live.

Over the past year, contributions from readers like you helped to fund some of our most important reporting, including coverage of the East Troublesome Fire.

If you value local journalism, consider making a contribution to our newsroom in support of the work we do.