While the rest of Havre deals with the first week of keeping up new year’s resolutions, Havre City Council made a few big changes of their own at Tuesday night’s meeting. And these are going to stick.
The first, and biggest, in an evening of swearing in new and existing officeholders was the council members elected in last November’s city election: incumbent Andrew Brekke and newcomers Brian Barrows, Rick Dow and Bonnie Parenteau.
After the elected swore and signed their oath, the room was filled with a bittersweet shuffling. Now former council members Pam Hillery, Cal Long and Bob Kaul gave up their seats and passed their replacements in a sea of hugs and handshakes from their supporters — colleagues, family and friends in attendance.
Shortly after the new council was seated, they jumped right into the regular business of new year council meetings: approving budgets, drafting letters and appointing members of the Havre City-County Airport board and Havre Police Department.
The new council, split evenly between Republicans and Democrats for the first time in years, didn’t have to wait long to utilize this unprecedented parity.
When it came time to elect the president of the council, council member Janet Trethewey nominated Allen “Woody” Woodwick, who had been president since 2008.
Immediately afterward, Dow nominated Brekke for the role.
When the vote came, it was split down the middle, Republicans for Brekke, Democrats for Woodwick.
Mayor Tim Solomon, a Democrat himself, had to break the tie and selected Brekke, who is also Hill County Republican chair, to serve his first two-year term.
“Woody was it last time around, ” Solomon said. “They’ve both been very involved. ”
Solomon added that he wanted “to just move it around a little. Moving around never hurt. I think it’ll be good. ”
Brekke said that his fellow Republican councilmen, Barrows, Dow and Bob Kaftan, “came to me and asked if I’d serve, and I said yes. ”
“I was very happy to receive the mayor’s nod, ” Brekke said. “I think we have an opportunity to make some change. ”
He added that he didn’t expect the mayor to choose him, but he also didn’t expect councilman Gerry Veis to cast a vote as he usually doesn’t in situations like this.
Brekke also lauded his predecessor, saying “he’s a great guy. He’s been a great president. ”
Woodwick expressed a similar graciousness.
“I think Andrew will do a fine job, ” Woodwick said. “He’s very, very dedicated. ”
Woodwick explained that the president’s job is to sit in when the mayor cannot make a council meeting, or when the council wants to deliberately have a meeting without the mayor. In the 10 years he’s been on the council, Woodwick said he only recalled the president’s role being utilized once.
Other people sworn in on Tuesday included City Judge Margaret Hencz and new Havre Police Chief Kirk Fitch.