Morenci city council 2013.09.25


Morenci went from having two mayoral candidates to three this week when current mayor Keith Pennington filed as a write-in candidate.

Pennington’s name won’t appear on the General Election ballot with Bill Foster and Kebben Milliman, but candidates must file a declaration of intent in order for any write-in votes to count.

At the end of the regular sign-up period, Foster and Milliman were the only mayoral candidates while Ron Apger and Rob Sweet were the only candidates registered to fill two of three expiring council seats. Since then, Sean Seger filed to run as a write-in candidate for city council.

The deadline to file as a write-in candidate is Oct. 25, the second Friday before the election.

He said he was disappointed that he wasn’t selected for the job of city administrator, but that hasn’t diminished his desire to serve the city.

“My goal was to continue in public service,” Pennington said.

A lot of experience will be lost with the departure of several council members   and the retirement of the administrator, he said, and he thinks it’s important to have his experience remain in city hall.

PHONE SYSTEM—Council’s Public Works committee met before the regular council meeting to discuss complaints residents have lodged about the new city phone system.

Deputy clerk Leasa Slocum said so many people are complaining about the new system and council member Ron Apgeragreed.

“I talked to several people at a ball game and no one likes it,” he said. “We’re a city of 2,500 people. People want to hear a human when they call.”

Slocum’s suggestion was to retain the first set of choices that a caller hears—to choose which city department—but eliminate the next one that lists most city employees. If someone chooses city hall, then an employee will answer the phone and direct the caller to the proper extension.

Pennington asked staff members what they see as the advantage of a menu system. 

“If I’m calling as an uninformed citizen,” he said, “I may not know who I want to talk to.”

One advantage, said council member Brenda Spiess, is that there’s much less interruption to city hall staff by not having to fi eld all the calls.

City administration/clerk Renée Schroeder said that certain jobs take employees out of the office frequently and calls can go directly to their voicemail.

Pennington said he would rather have a person tell him when an employee might be returning to the office rather than wait for a return call with no idea about when it might come.

“Maybe we need to be coaching people on how to place a time expectation on their voice mail,” Spiess said.

In many cases, Pennington said, if the person he is aft er isn’t available, he will want to talk to someone else.

Most calls are for the police department, Schroeder said, and the city hall staff members oft en don’t know when

the offi cer will return.

Similarly, Slocum added, callers are oft en directed to the DPW office even though the city hall staff doesn’t know if anyone is present.

Pennington said he agrees that one menu for city hall is better than two, but he’s still trying to determine the overall value to the system.

Spiess said that guidelines need to be established for creating voicemail.

“We want it to be more user-friendly for people who call in,” Schroeder said, “and not only user-friendly, but just friendly. That’s the key.”

Slocum will contact the phone service to remove the second menu from the city hall portion of the system.