The Crescent City Council on Monday agreed to endorse the appointment of Ocean World owner Mary Wilson to the Solid Waste Management Authority Board.
But the vote for the public member of the board wasn't unanimous.
The board, which also includes two county supervisors and two City Council members, oversees the Solid Waste Authority and directs the pickup and disposal of garbage and recyclables throughout Del Norte. The two supervisors on the five-member board have called for the dissolution of the authority.
Councilwoman Kathryn Murray acknowledged Wilson's experience on the Del Norte Solid Waste Task Force, an advisory committee for solid waste issues, but said she was concerned about Wilson's ability to be objective. Murray said she was also worried that Wilson did not grasp how her "day-to-day decisions" would impact the community.
"You were not happy with the process, and even when your rates were reduced and you could start self-hauling, you still had problems with that," Murray said to Wilson, who sat in the audience at Monday's meeting. "I'd like to see somebody who has not shown their true colors and (who is) more objective in this issue because it's very complicated and it's going to get very political and it's not going to be pretty."
Murray made a motion to appoint Ray Martell instead of Wilson to the Authority Board, but that motion died for lack of a second. The City Council voted 4-1 in favor of ratifying Wilson as the Solid Waste board's public member. Murray dissented.
Councilwoman Kelly Schellong pulled the issue off the Council's consent agenda for discussion, saying she received several phone calls from constituents with concerns that Wilson may be intent on dissolving the Solid Waste Authority.
"I thought it proper for Mary to hear that tonight," Schellong said. "Mary's intelligent and will hopefully make good decisions that benefit the community and not a political agenda."
Wilson and Martell, who has also served on the Solid Waste Task Force, were the finalists out of seven individuals who applied for the public member position. Waste Board member and county Supervisor Roger Gitlin nominated Wilson for the position at the Authority Board's April 23 meeting. Board members voted 3-1 in favor of Wilson's appointment, with Councilman Rick Holley dissenting.
On Monday, Holley supported Wilson's appointment.
"She's been a diligent, hard-working member of the Solid Waste Task Force," Holley said. "I think she can be objective. And know that we have those checks and balances built in where important decisions made by the JPA (joint powers agreement, which is directed by the Authority Board) come back to the Council and back to the Board of Supervisors, it doesn't have quite the weight that it did at one time. Those are the reasons why I'll be voting for Mary for this position."
Wilson, who has been on the Solid Waste Task Force for 18 months, said Tuesday she feels she'll bring a balanced approach as the Authority Board's public member.
Asked what her position is on whether the Solid Waste Authority should be dissolved, Wilson said she has started to do some research into the issue and added that Authority Board members should analyze the benefits and the costs further.
"I have a family and kids," she said. "I want a healthy community. But as a businessperson I also see a need to have businesses here that can succeed and create jobs. Our economy is so fragile. A lot of businesses fail here."
During public comment, city resident Richard Miles, another member of the Solid Waste Task Force, said despite their differences, Wilson did listen to him and other people while on the Task Force.
Wilson's appointment still awaits final approval by the Board of Supervisors.
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org.