With a unanimous vote Monday night, Ottawa city commissioners selected Eric Crowley to fill the vacant commission spot.
The position came open following the resignation of Emily Graves and will expire in November 2019. Crowley is the owner of Advantage Electric in Ottawa. On his application, he wrote that his experience as a business owner and a former commissioner will help him be successful.
“I feel as I can be a conduit for some of the Ottawa residents to be heard that normally would not be heard,” he wrote. “I love this town and have said many times and feel there is more that I can give to it. After spending almost seven months as a commissioner last year, I feel I can hit the ground running. This community has been good to me and my family and I feel it is my duty to give back to it.”
Crowley was previously appointed to the commission in June 2017 following the resignation of Linda Reed. He filled that seat until November 2017.
The commission interviewed five applicants for the position at Monday’s study session. Also interviewed were Brett Staneslow, Samantha Wiedel, Norman Griffith and Sheila Schaefer. After some discussion they narrowed their selection to two, Crowley and Staneslow. Mayor Michael Skidmore said it was a strong group and made the decision difficult.
“It’s a good problem to have,” Skidmore said. “There are some good candidates and it always makes the decision more difficult but it helps us to pick the best of the pool to fill these positions.”
When discussing Crowley, the commission was impressed with his experience as a commissioner.
“Positives are he’s a business owner and he has gotten his feet wet doing this job,” commissioner Blake Jorgensen said.
Commissioner Tom Weigand added that his role as a business owner stood out to him.
“And I think what Blake said is important but he’s in a crucial industry where we can use some encouragement or communication with developers to make it easier and give better understanding as well as his experience and desire to service on the commission,” Weigand said. “I thought he did a great job of interviewing.”
That experience was also noticed by commissioner Sara Caylor.
“I think the one thing that we do have to remember is that when you do walk into this seat for the first time you just don’t know what you don’t know,” Caylor said. “He does come with a bit of knowledge that he can step into.”
After narrowing the choices, the decision to move forward on the vote was discussed. Skidmore asked the commissioners if they were ready to vote and all but Caylor said they were in favor of making a decision Monday night.
“If we’re at a standstill there is nothing that says we can’t bring them both back in and have a conversation,” she said. “We’ve passed the budget. There’s nothing critical on our agenda right now that we foresee will be divisive at this table. We only get one chance to make the right decision.”
“I’m trying to decide what my voting options are,” Caylor said. “Before I vote I want it to be noted that I am not in favor of this. We have taken time to talk about smoking in the park, we’ve taken time on lesser issues. When we put a person in this spot it’s a huge deal. I do think it’s unfair that vote is being forced today because I think we should take time to talk to the citizenry about who they want to represent them as a city commission, so I am begrudgingly voting in lieu of taking another week.”
Caylor then cast her vote for Crowley, making it unanimous.