OURAY BRIEFS | Underwood Resigns; Council Seeks Candidates to Fill Vacancy
by Samantha Wright
Jan 30, 2014 | 491 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

OURAY – The Ouray City Council will appoint a new councilor at its upcoming meeting on Monday, Feb. 3, following Councilor Michael Underwood’s resignation last week. 

Letters of interest from Ouray residents who want to fill the vacancy must be submitted at the Ouray City Hall by 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30. 

Each applicant will be given three to five minutes at next Monday’s meeting to stand before council and speak about why they feel they are a strong candidate for the position, said Mayor Pam Larson. Council will then discuss the merits of the applicants and make an appointment. All deliberations must be held in open session. The public will also be encouraged to weigh in on the matter. The appointee will serve for the remainder of Underwood’s four-year term, which expires in Nov. 2015.

The city’s Home Rule Charter requires that council vacancies be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining council members, not by general election. Each applicant must be a registered elector of the City of Ouray who has resided within the City boundaries for one year immediately preceding the appointment.

As of Tuesday, Jan. 28, two applicants have indicated interest in filling the council vacancy: Sara Sharpe, who is the proprietor of the Secret Garden Bed and Breakfast and Secret Garden Catering, and Realtor Carl Cockle. Both individuals were among the five candidates who ran for two open seats in last fall’s coordinated election. 

Underwood was elected to a four-year term as a Ouray City Councilor in November 2011, after serving on the City of Ouray Planning Commission for one year. He moved to Ouray with his wife in 2004 and started a property maintenance business, Wildwood Mountain Management, Inc. The business has grown to encompass property management, vacation rentals and real estate as well. 

Underwood told The Watch that he has been thinking about resigning from council since last September. “There is only so much time, energy and brain space available, and I’ve got so much going on,” he said. “It’s more important for me to focus my attention on matters that only I can do, as opposed to arenas where others could serve just as well, or perhaps even better.”

Two hot-button issues that have dominated Underwood’s term in office were the fate of retail marijuana in the City of Ouray (Underwood cast a deciding vote that will send the matter to the ballot this November), and the recent turnover in the Ouray Police Department. But Underwood said that one of the most meaningful projects he worked on as a councilor was updating the city’s salary scale “to provide adequate and fair” compensation to its employees. The endeavor resulted in every city employee, from lifeguards to the city administrator, getting a pay increase that was implemented last year.

Serving on council “has been a real learning experience,” Underwood said. “We need to work together, as a community and as a country. It’s a source of frustration when it doesn’t happen that way.” 



As the Ouray Police Department goes through the process of reorganization, it invites community members to help redesign the department’s shoulder patch. All residents of the City of Ouray are eligible to participate in the contest. 

“Our desire for the patch is that the design is reflective of Ouray by highlighting something unique and special to our city,” Police Chief Justin Perry said. 

Templates and competition rules can be picked up at the Ouray Police Department or Ouray City Hall, or downloaded from the city’s website, cityofouray.com. 

The competition began Jan. 20 and concludes Feb. 21. Contest participants may enter unlimited designs. The contest entries will be judged by a panel consisting of government officials and Ouray community members. 



The FJ Summit plans to return to Ouray next summer, with the event set for July 16-20 at the Twin Peaks Lodge. “For 2014, we plan to have 300 trucks and approximately 700 people in attendance and are excited to bring many national level sponsors to town including Toyota, Toyota Racing Development, Discount Tire, TRD-Parts-4-U, Falken Tire and ARB, as well as many smaller organizations,” said FJ Summit Co-Director Jonathan Harris in a letter to council. According to Harris, last year’s event donated $7,000 to local organizations as well as “significantly contributing to the town’s economy by encouraging people to eat and stay at local venues.”

One of the highlights of the annual gathering of FJ Cruiser enthusiasts is a group photo staged on Ouray’s Main Street. Staging the photo op requires that Main Street be closed for about two hours in the very early morning, which in turn requires the annual blessing of the Ouray City Council and assistance from the Ouray Police Department. “The photos we take are used by our sponsors in their corporate offices and showrooms all over the country and really show off the event and Ouray,” Harris said. “It would be incredible if we could continue this tradition.”


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