Randy Hartless is Parker’s new Mayor after a vote at Tuesday night’s council meeting, the first of the year. David Lucas was voted Vice Mayor. The change represents a new season at Town Hall.
After the invocation and pledge of allegiance, the new council took the oath of office and were seated. Marion Shontz began by nominating Jerry Hooper for Mayor. Hooper and Shontz were joined by Rey DeLeon in voting Yes, while the rest of the council voted No. Then, Erica Daniels nominated Hartless, and was joined by Hartless, David Lucas, Dusty Woodell and Shontz in voting Yes, a majority of the council.
Shontz nominated Hooper for Vice Mayor, with the same split, before Hartless nominated Lucas, receiving the votes of the majority.
After moving to the Mayor’s chair, Hartless said, “I appreciate the opportunity and I want to see us moving in the right direction. I think we’ve been moving in the right direction since October 2021.”
That was the month Town Manager Lori Wedemeyer was placed on administrative leave after much controversy, with Hartless her most vocal critic. Hartless then thanked outgoing Mayor Karen Bonds and Town Clerk Amy Putnam for their service to the Town, for which Bonds was earlier presented a plaque.
“This has been a hard time for the Town,” he added.
Hartless was elected to council in 2016 and re-elected in 2020. He leads the Parker Area Alliance for Community Empowerment (PAACE), a Parker nonprofit which runs programs for Parker youth, and is President of the Parker School Board.
In recent years, he has made news for his opposition to Wedemeyer’s actions as Town Manager, with allegations of wrongdoing leading to her ouster in 2021 and a subsequent lawsuit naming Hartless, in which Wedemeyer claims she has had her reputation unfairly ruined.
The decisions made at Tuesday night’s meeting will be seen as a pivotal turning point in the power held at Town Hall. Two distinct ‘camps’ emerged during the past several years, one which included Wedemeyer and one which was critical of her. With the turning over of the council, and the Mayor and Vice Mayor positions, Wedemeyer’s remaining supporters on the council are now distinctly in the minority. This includes check signing authority, which is now vested in the new Mayor and Vice Mayor, and in councilwoman Daniels.
Daniels occupies a seat formerly held by Frank Savino, who resigned last year. Woodell is taking office this month for the first time.
Hartless told Parker Live he wants to see a proficient Town Manager step in.
“My goal is to hire a qualified Town Manager,” he said, “and to see the proper Town Manager / Town Council relationship restored to the way it’s supposed to be, with everyone having a voice in the town government instead of the Town Manager allowing a few select council members to make the decisions. A Town Manager should never be allowed to manipulate council members, community members, finances, local media, and even elections in an effort to retain their position. It’s just wrong.”