By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Two Havre City Council members stepped down Monday night, two new members were sworn in, and Rick Pierson was re-elected City Council president.
New members Terry Schend of Ward 2 and Pam Hillery of Ward 1 were sworn in along with incumbents Emily Mayer Lossing, Rick Pierson and Jack Brandon, who were re-elected in November.
Monday's swearing-in ceremony did not change the political composition of the City Council, which still has seven Democrats and one Republican.
Democrat Doug Larson of Ward 1 and Republican Gary Schubert of Ward 2 did not run for re-election and stepped down Monday night to allow the newcomers to take their seats in the council chambers.
A few minutes later, Schend, the new council's sole Republican, and Hillery joined the other six City Council members in unanimously re-electing Pierson as City Council president. The president presides over council meetings if the mayor is absent.
"It's an honor," Pierson said after the meeting, adding that his goal for the next four years is "just to work with the council and the mayor to do what's necessary to keep the town up and running."
"I was surprised how nervous I was," Hillery said of her swearing in. She said that in the next four years she would like to advocate an upgraded community-built playground at Pepin Park that would be the result of cooperation between the city and the schools that use the park.
Her other goal, she said, is to find a "citywide approach" to health insurance for city employees. Currently the unions representing city firefighters, police, and public works employees negotiate health insurance premium contributions separately.
Schend said he hopes to serve on the council's Finance Committee and the Labor Relations Committee at some point over his two-year term so he can use his experience in business and dealing with employees.
"There's a definite positive energy (in the city), and I hope to be able to contribute to that, keep that alive," he said.
Mayer Lossing said balancing the city budget will be a "chalenge that needs to be met" as the city faces declining revenue and rising costs. She also said improving the condition of the streets on the east end of town is one of her top priorities.
Brandon said he would like to see some improvements made at the Havre City-County Airport, and would like to see the council have a better relationship with the H. Earl Clack Foundation.
"I think we can do a better job with some of those things," he said.
Larson said he doesn't regret his decision not to run again, but that he is glad he served on the City Council.
"I've learned a lot," he said. "I think everyone should take their turn serving the city in different ways. It's been a good experience."