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Resignation will put commissioner seat up for grabs

Published December 29. 2011 05:01PM

With the expected resignation of Democratic Carbon County Commissioner Charles Getz today, the vacancy on the board of commissioners is up for grabs.

Some speculate that Getz's running mate and current commissioner, fellow Democrat William O'Gurek, may be the prime candidate for the position. But, the decision of who will fill the vacancy lies with Carbon County President Judge Roger Nanovic, who will take into consideration the recommendation of the executive board of the Carbon County Democratic Committee. The person appointed to the position will serve the four-year term.

O'Gurek, who lost his bid for election to a third term this November and whose current term expires Dec. 31, said in a phone interview this morning that if he is named as the person to fill Getz's position, he would gladly accept it because he would like to continue to serve this county as he has done over the last eight years.

"I have had the discussion with Commissioner Getz about the future role of a minority commissioner, and I've made my interest known that I would like to be considered for appointment," he said, adding that he will be making that interest known to the county Democratic Committee, which is meeting today to discuss the group's recommendation.

Once the committee makes its recommendation, the decision falls solely on Nanovic. His appointment of Getz's replacement, whether it be O'Gurek or another person, can be made at any time the judge feels is proper. Nanovic was called to make an appointment to fill a county vacancy once before in 2008, after Jury Commissioner William Poluka, 81, passed away in his home.

Republican Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, who was the top vote-getter in the November election with 7,055 votes, responded to the news of Getz's resignation and the possibility of O'Gurek being named to fill the vacancy, saying he has heard from people who are not in favor.

"The strange thing is," Nothstein said, "I received more phone calls last night from Democrats who were not happy about it (Getz's resignation and O'Gurek possibly being named). People are upset because they didn't vote for (O'Gurek)."

As for news of the Republican party lobbying against O'Gurek being recommended, Nothstein said he had not talked to the party chairperson, so he could not confirm or deny the news.

The resignation of Getz, who served on the board of commissioners for the past 16 years, came to light after, what Getz called a "smear campaign" during this year's general election, by his GOP opponents, Commissioner Nothstein, incumbent, and Tom Gerhard, a newcomer.

During the campaign, five fliers were distributed throughout Carbon County targeting O'Gurek for decisions being made, including the sale of Weatherwood and the handling of Packerton Yards.

Leading up to and following the election, Getz voiced his disapproval of the fliers and the way the campaign was run by Gerhard and Nothstein.

During the last few meetings, Getz has repeatedly said that he had lost respect for Nothstein and felt that he and Gerhard were "liars."

He also questioned Gerhard's knowledge on finances and the grant process because of the Republicans' intention to sell Packerton Yards. If the land is sold and the plans for the industrialization of the 59-acre site are scrapped, the county could lose $5.1 million in state and federal grants that it has already secured for the project.

"I don't know if Tom Gerhard understands the grant process," Getz said during the Nov. 17 commissioners' meeting.

"If you get grants to put a new wall up, you can't say we're going to go out and do the parking lot. You can't take grant money and use it for another project. Grant money doesn't work that way."

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