Heimlicher irked by choice of Paige, but agrees to help him
New District 3 City Council member Sean Paige says he has arranged with his predecessor, Jerry Heimlicher, to drive around the district together next week.
It didn't come easily.
In a phone interview Oct. 13, the former councilman said frankly that he was “extremely disappointed” about council members having appointed Paige last week.
The former Gazette editorial writer is a libertarian (limited-government proponent) who opposes Question 2C, a property-tax increase proposal that council had placed on the ballot in hopes of avoiding major budget cuts in 2010. He also admitted in an interview with the Westside Pioneer after his appointment that he was not well acquainted with Westside issues.
“I think council for whatever reason - I don't know if there was a full moon that night - decided to try a social experiment instead of serving the voters who elected me,” complained Heimlicher, who was also not happy about being on the critical end of past Paige editorials.
In separate interviews, three council members who are Westside residents (Scott Hente, Randy Purvis and Tom Gallagher) provided their reasons for appointing Paige to the southwest quadrant district that includes the older Westside as well as downtown and the Cheyenne area.
“Sean Paige has different ideas from most people on City Council, and that's OK,” Hente said. “It's good to be challenged by other ideas.”
Purvis said he also liked bringing on a “critical voice” - once he had become convinced there were no candidates who represented the district's “diversity.” He added that, although Paige's choice has been decried by some, “a lot of people did like it,” chiefly the estimated 35 percent of the community who would be defined as libertarians.
Gallagher said he values Paige's belief in government transparency, describing him as “objective and knowledgeable about local issues.” Also, he said, the new councilman is taking time to learn about the Westside. “We're going to go around the Westside this weekend,” he said, including a “walk along the creeks.”
Heimlicher, a six-year councilman, was elected to a new four-year term last April, but recently decided for personal reasons to move back to his and his wife Mary- Margaret's home state of Tennessee. So he resigned from council, effective at the end of September.
Between then and Nov. 1, when the move will occur, he had offered to assist with the adjustment of whoever council appointed in his place. However, he expressed reluctance about that prospect with Paige. “If he asks me to help get him acquainted to issues on the Westside and key leaders, I'll do it,” Heimlicher told the Westside Pioneer. “But I don't expect him to.”
Contacted Oct. 14 for a comment, Paige conceded that “we've had our differences on issues over time,” but added that he liked Heimlicher, and “I take seriously the good things he did.” In response to what the former councilman had told the Pioneer, Paige pledged to contact Heimlicher and tell him he would appreciate the help.
Later on the 14th, Paige called back to say that he and Heimlicher had talked and would be driving around together Monday, Oct. 19. “You can say you facilitated a détente,” he told the Pioneer.
Westside Pioneer article