New City Council sworn in, getting to work on marijuana regulations | Western Colorado

Four Grand Junction City Council members were sworn in Monday morning for new four-year terms after winning their elections on April 6.

Rick Taggart was reelected, and Abe Herman, Randall Reitz and Dennis Simpson were elected for the first time. The new council members met at City Hall in front of a small gathering, which included city staff and the three City Council members who were not up for reelection.

The new council started off with a work session Monday evening, which included discussion about allowing marijuana businesses in the city.

According to the agenda, discussion items were to include whether regulations should be put in place, the timeframe for licensing new marijuana businesses and whether to establish a cap on the number of certain marijuana licenses.

The new council members have a lot to take in as they get up to speed with the job of serving on City Council. Herman said he’s been reading the packets for the meetings and said he hoped the public would be tuning in.

“I’ve done all my readings, which is an important part of being a council member — hundreds of pages of background to make sure you’re making informed decisions,” Herman said.

For Simpson, the third time was the charm.

He said he was happy to be sworn in as a City Council member after having run two previous campaigns in which he was not elected. He said he’s hoping to bring forward some new ideas.

“It feels good,” Simpson said. “It’s been a long time to get here.”

Current Councilor Phillip Pe’a said he was excited to welcome the new members to the council. He said the city is “in great shape” and that the new council members will bring a fresh perspective.

“Of course, I feel sad losing Duke (Wortmann) and Phyllis (Norris) because I was a freshman and I learned a lot from Duke,” Pe’a said. “I’m glad Rick returned. I still feel the leadership will be just as strong, if not stronger.”

Wortmann, who was the mayor, did not run for reelection, and Norris was term-limited. Councilor Chuck McDaniel is serving as the interim mayor pro-tem until the new mayor and mayor pro-tem are selected at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

With the issue of marijuana businesses, which citizens voted to allow in the April election, the City Council is starting off with a complex issue. It will also soon begin its strategic planning process, which will lay out the council’s priorities for the next two years. Herman said he felt the new council would be able to get a lot accomplished.

“We have a great council,” Herman said. “I’m excited to work with my fellow council members and have productive and forward-thinking discussions. I think we have a lot of things we can accomplish with this makeup of seven great council members.”

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