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Granite Shoals appoints new councilor, Charter Review Committee members

Michael Berg and Aaron Garcia

Newly appointed Place 5 Councilor Michael Berg (left) and Granite Shoals Mayor Aaron Garcia after Berg's appointment during the council's regular meeting Nov. 30. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Granite Shoals City Council appointed Michael Berg to the vacant Place 5 seat during its regular meeting Wednesday, Nov. 30. The council also filled three empty spots on the city’s Charter Review Committee after recent resignations. 

Berg was one of four applicants for the empty seat after the council accepted the resignation of Eddie McCoy on Nov. 16. He will serve until the May 2023 general election, at which point, the seat will be up for grabs. Berg plans to run. 

In total, five council positions will be on the May ballot: Place 1, Place 2, Place 3, Place 5, and mayor.

Berg was chosen from among fellow applicants Kiel Arnone, Roman Archer, and Royce Johnson. Archer, Arnone, and Berg also applied for the Place 2 vacancy, which was filled by Kevin Flack on Oct. 25

The council now has the maximum number of allowable appointed members with the appointments of Flack and Berg. According to the city charter, another vacancy on the council before the May election would trigger a special election. If a vacancy were to occur within 90 days of the general election, the seat would remain empty until voters had their say in May. 

Samantha Ortis and Fatima Hernandez Lopez
Councilor Samantha Ortis and newly appointed Charter Review Committee member Fatima Hernandez Lopez. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The council also appointed Bruce Jones and Larry Conchola to the Charter Review Committee. Berg was on the committee, but after his Place 5 appointment, committee alternate Fatima Hernandez Lopez replaced him as a full member. The committee is tasked with assessing the city’s charter and submitting changes or improvements to the council for review so the alterations can be placed on the May ballot.

Now that the council is full, a new mayor pro tem will be selected at the next meeting on Dec. 15 as well as a new alternate for the Charter Review Committee.

Berg was chosen after an interview process with all applicants, except for Johnson, who was not in attendance at the meeting. Each was asked a series of questions apart from the other applicants so they could not hear their answers. Council members then anonymously assigned numerical values of 1-4 to each applicant, with the lowest collective score being the best. 

The tally by City Attorney Joshua Katz and Interim City Manager Peggy Smith revealed a tie between Berg and Archer. The council then held another anonymous vote, which resulted in four votes for Berg and two for Archer. An 80 percent vote is required to appoint a councilor, so Place 3 Councilor Samantha Ortis moved to appoint Berg to streamline the process. She was seconded by Flack, and then the council unanimously approved Berg’s appointment.

Berg sold himself to the council on a three-point platform of stability, economic development, and family support. 

“My commitment to this team is 100 percent,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Applicants were asked the following questions:

  • Why do you want to serve on city council?
  • How can we get economic growth going in Granite Shoals?
  • What would be your solution to conflict resolution?
  • Does your interest in serving on city council stem from a personal interest or goal? 
  • Is there something in particular you hope to accomplish while serving on city council?
  • What actions would you take to get the city council to work together for the common good of the people?
  • What qualities and experience should we look for in filling the city manager position?
  • If you were given the opportunity to accomplish three things to make Granite Shoals a better place to live, what would you do?
  • What are your beliefs regarding property rights in the city?
  • Explain your strategy that will allow you to invest the time needed to serve the residents of Granite Shoals.

dakota@thepicayune.com