Laramie’s new city council members took their oaths of office this past Tuesday, Jan. 5.
It also included expressions of gratitude towards exiting city council members Charles McKinney and Mayor Joe Shumway.
Shumway served 21 years and only stepped down as a city council member because he moved from Ward 2 to Ward 3.
“It’s been an honor to serve the community,” Shumway said. He admitted it was sad leaving, but he hoped to return to service in the future. He added another comment. “I have high expectations and a lot of confidence.”
He further stated the importance for city council members to be able to work together. If they stick together stuff will get done, he said. He observed that the current council seemed to work well through their first session.
After swearing oaths to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the State of Wyoming, the nine city council members proceeded to elect Paul Weaver as mayor and Jayne Pearce as vice mayor. Pearce is who nominated Weaver for mayor.
“Paul is really level-headed and incredibly kind. As the mayor, it’s important to have a rapport with the community,” she said.
Both decisions found favor with Shumway.
“Jayne is very capable and experienced, and Paul is extremely smart,” Shumway said.
Pearce said that while she is honored to serve as vice mayor for the third time, she is careful to note that neither she nor Weaver have much more power than any other members of city council.
“We have a very egalitarian form of city government,” she said. “There is a little extra responsibility as mayor and vice mayor, but we have shared governance. She added that everyone has equal say.
She went on to say that they are fortunate to have a city council consisting of members with a diverse array of expertise. For example, Jessica Stalder is a registered nurse, Pearce works in academia, and Erin O’Doherty is an ecologist.
Continuing, Pearce expressed excitement there are five women on the city council. In her opinion, that representation really mattered, particularly at the local level.
Of all now on the council, Sharon Cumbie of Ward 2 is the only member who has never served before, yet believes herself more than qualified. Cumbie is a retired professor of nursing, and felt that she could transfer those skills to city council and civil service.
She said that she initially ran for city council because she had worked with council members on various projects over the years, was impressed with their work and wanted a chance to collaborate with them in service to the community.
“While working with the Albany County Clean Water Advocates, I had several opportunities to speak in front of city council, and I always appreciated their professionalism,” said Cumbie. She added she holds dear the notion that one should get out, get involved, and serve one’s community. She also understands that she is entering city government at what is a challenging time for all levels of government and communities.
“I hope we take this time of challenge and seize it as an opportunity,” she said.
Shumway shared similar thoughts where pandemic-related economic fallout loomed ahead. He said the challenge will be to stay in tune with what the community needs, and to ensure everyone has these needs met.
The nine members of the Laramie City Council are now as follows: Paul Weaver, Jayne Pearce, Pat Gabriel, Bryan Shuster, Jessica Stalder, Erin O’Doherty, Brian Harrington, Andi Summerville, Sharon Cumbie.