Allan Gray was re-elected as mayor pro tem by his peers on the Lee’s Summit City Council.
The mayor pro tem serves as mayor for the council when the mayor is absent, but also appoints committee members, committee chairs, liaisons to boards and commissions, and assigns ordinances or issues to committees.
It was a split decision as the new council met May 1 with many items on its agenda.
The council also unanimously voted to combine the Budget and Finance committees, and to dissolve the Community Development Block Grant Committee. It transferred responsibilities of the CDBG Committee to the Community and Economic Development Committee.
David Mosby nominated Gray, giving three reasons: continuity, consistency and cohesiveness.
Diane Forte nominated Rob Binney, saying that voters had endorsed a change in direction for the council.
There was no further discussion of nominees and during a roll-call vote each council member said the name of whom they wanted for pro tem.
Neither Gray nor Binney said anything, other than voting for themselves.
Gray was supported by Mosby, Bob Johnson, Diane Seif and Derek Holland.
Forte and Trish Carlyle voted for Binney.
Community leaders interested in city politics closely watched the selection, some thinking that Mayor Randy Rhoads might have to break a tie vote.
Gray said in an interview he’d been approached by other council members expressing support for him. “It was something I welcomed and look forward to serving the council.” Gray said. “I will work with all eight menbers of the city council to make sure we’re moving in a good, positive direction."
He said the council will be discussing priorities for economic development, culture and arts and infrastructure at retreat this Thursday, May 8 and on Saturday May 10.
Binney said that he’d heard talk about a need for change and had said he’d serve if chosen, but he is “absolutely fine” with the outcome.
“I think people want to see more action and less politicization,” Binney said. “I hope the (council members) being appointed to committees remember it’s about a bigger picture and not about them.”
Seif did not return a call asking for her comments.
Forte said she hadn’t discussed the pro tem issue with council members, but based on earlier comments of newly elected members she thought she had the votes for a switch.
Forte said that because of some of the personality conflicts and volatile debates in the last year, she had hoped the council would signal a new tenor by making a change in pro tem.
A frequently discussed issue during the campaign was the council’s image, with its occasional flares of animosity, flip-flopping and members’ accusations of backdoor deal making. Forte said she wasn’t casting blame on Gray in particular for the council’s demeanor.
“I was honestly not negative on any person who had it (mayor pro tem) in the past,” Forte said. “But voters had made it plain they wanted a change.”