|Mayor, three council members to be elected Tuesday, April 3|
|Written by Chris Lee|
Residents of City of Holyoke will elect a mayor and three council members to four-year terms Tuesday, April 3 in a municipal election.
Incumbent Orville Tonsing was the sole person to file for the mayor’s seat, which he has held since Aug. 17, 2010.
Incumbents David Churchwell, Scott Murray and Kevin Scott all filed for re-election and John Ayoub filed a petition for candidacy to a four-year council term.
The election will be held from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday, April 3. Holyoke City Clerk/Treasurer Kathy Olofson said since the town is considered one precinct, the only polling place will be at the council chambers at 407 E. Denver St.
Olofson also noted 618 ballots will be mailed out this year. Registered voters who signed up to be a Permanent Mail In Voter (PMIV) with the county also signed up to receive a municipal ballot by mail.
This will be the second municipal election where the clerk will be sending ballots to residents who have requested to be a PMIV. All ballots must be received before the close of polls at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 3.
The last day to register to vote in the upcoming municipal election was March 2. Olofson did note there is still time to request an address change.
Hoping to be able to give back to the place he now calls home, Ayoub said it was time to step up and run for a council position.
Ayoub is currently the Administrator at Melissa Memorial Hospital. He moved to Holyoke March 2007 when he accepted the job on an interim basis. He was named the permanent CEO/administrator after about seven months on the job.
“I really do feel like Holyoke is my home now,” Ayoub said. “I’m looking for a different way to give back.”
Ayoub said he doesn’t feel there is anything wrong with the current council and doesn’t have a burning platform. “I do feel like I have a knack for looking at the big picture and I hope I bring a skill set that could be valued at the city council level.”
Ayoub considers Holyoke his home and would like to continue making it his home. “I’d want to do what I can to improve it. Not that it’s bad,” he noted. He thinks Holyoke is a great place. If it wasn’t, he wouldn’t be here, he said. “But everything has opportunity for improvement,” he added.
Ayoub thinks he would bring a unique skill set and perspective to the table and be a positive force.
Ayoub grew up in Valparaiso, Ind. He received his bachelor’s degree in public health from Indiana University in Bloomington and master’s in health care administration from Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis.
While pursuing his master’s, Ayoub worked in the department of medicine in division of endrocrinology and metabolism where he handled grant monies for some very smart people.
Following graduation, he applied for and received a national fellowship which took him to Kearney, Neb. where he worked for Good Samaritan Hospital. He began as an administrator fellow working directly for the CEO.
After one year, Ayoub became the senior planning analyst where he worked on special projects for the CEO. One of his bigger projects was purchasing a day care located next to the hospital and making it part of the hospital itself.
He later served as the vice president for mission integration.
Following his time in Kearney, Ayoub moved to Fort Collins where he became the owner and CEO of his own business, RTF Enterprises, LLC.—titles he still owns today. The business handles small business consulting.
As part of that, he purchased Starlight Theater in Fort Collins, a place he has since sold. Following his time in Fort Collins, Ayoub moved to Holyoke accepting the administrator’s job on an interim basis which later became a permanent position.
He is a board member of Colorado Stroke Alliance, board member of Colorado Hospital Association Shared Services, board member of Centennial Mental Health Center, president of Melissa Memorial Hospital Corporation board, board member of Colorado Rural Health Center, member of Data Services of Health Care and on the Phillips County 911 board.
Ayoub is a certified EMT-Basic and a Fellow in the American College of Health Care Executives.
In his free time, he enjoys reading, playing strategy games, spending time with his fiancee Erica Brady and visiting Holyoke’s local restaurants and Peerless Theatre. He also has a niece in Kearney, Neb. he likes to visit.
Churchwell has served on the City Council since Oct. 2010 when he was appointed to fill Orville Tonsing’s seat after Tonsing took over as mayor following the resignation of David Nygaard.
Churchwell said he has liked being on the council and wasn’t aware of all the issues and decisions that come before it. “I like that interaction with the public and then all the issues that we do face and how they affect Holyoke.”
Churchwell feels the council has worked well together even though not everyone agrees on everything all the time. “I think we’re set up to where we can have disagreements around the table but once a decision is made we are all standing behind it and we still walk out as friends.”
He feels it is important to have people on the council that are willing to take the time and effort to research issues and talk to some of the citizens of Holyoke. “I want to make sure whoever runs is willing to take that time and I am willing to take that time and effort to research those issues and make the best decisions I can,” Churchwell said.
Looking into the future, Churchwell would like to see the quality of services offered by the city stay at a high level and reasonable cost. He noted the power contract is going to be coming due in the next few years and it will be a big issue to get it renewed at a reasonable price.
Churchwell said it is also important to continue looking at economic development but at the same time giving current businesses the chance to thrive.
Churchwell grew up in Limon where he graduated from high school. He obtained a degree from Colorado State University in electrical engineering prior to moving to Oregon where he worked for an electrical cooperative.
Churchwell and his family moved to Holyoke in 1999 when he was hired as operations manager at Highline Electric—a position he still holds today.
He and wife Nicole have three children, Zachary 12, Ashlyn 11 and Braxten 5. He has served on the Holyoke Volunteer Fire Department since 2003 and currently serves as second assistant chief.
He also helps with Phillips County Pheasants Forever and designed and updates their website. He is also a member of Zion Lutheran Church.
Churchwell is on the police committee, office committee and fire pension board. He was very involved with getting the police department back to full force. He said he and council member Steve Moore put in a lot of time and they still have things they are working on.
Murray was appointed towards the end of October last year to fill the seat left by Jessica Cumming after her resignation. It would seem Murray has only spent about four or five months on the council when actually he served a full term from 1992-1996.
Following this latest stint, he feels things have gone very well and feels the adjustment has been good. He was also quick to note his appreciation for the staff. “I think the staff is a very fine staff.”
Murray sees himself as one who gets along well with the public and can relate to many of the issues residents of Holyoke run into on a daily basis.
When he joined the council last fall, he noticed there are a few things around town that need to be addressed. The issues at the mini park were things he felt needed to be looked into and since has been part of the group looking into fixes.
Murray also believes heavily in economic development and thinks it is something the town needs to always be thinking about.
“I’m excited about running and if I’m elected, I’ll serve the people well,” Murray said. “I’m an average Joe working for the people. I’ll stand up for their rights.”
Murray was born and raised in the Holyoke area and graduated from HHS in 1974. He has lived in Holyoke since 1978.
He farms and drives a bus route for Holyoke School District. He also works part-time at Spindler Lumber.
Murray and wife Sharon have three sons Brett, Lance and Evan. Brett and wife Josie have three boys Steven, Matthew and Daniel.
In his free time, Murray enjoys hunting and horse riding. He currently sits on the Credit Union board of directors and has been involved with Haxtun Conservation District, Lions Club and Pheasants Forever.
Scott has been a member of the council since July 2007 when he was appointed to fill the seat left by David Nygaard when Nygaard was appointed mayor. Scott currently serves as Mayor Pro Tem.
After four years of council work, Scott would like to see growth in the city but at the same time, said it’s important to protect the stores that are currently in Holyoke.
He has served on the economic development committee and said it’s opened his eyes to see there aren’t a lot of things that want to come to Holyoke but when there is, it will be important to jump up and grab it.
He noted his first term went well and said it was a big learning experience. He said there are some things he would like to see finished which is why he decided to put his name in for consideration for another four-year term. The ball park project is one he mentioned.
He has also served on the parks and recreation board during his term.
Having worked for Phillips County Road and Bridge for many years, Scott knows the City of Holyoke very well. He has been the supervisor for district two of Phillips County Road and Bridge for 14 years and was supervisor of district one for five years prior to that.
Scott said he hopes the council can stay together for a long period of time following the election. He noted there has been a lot of turnover and the council has stayed strong throughout those times. “We have a good mayor. I think Orville is exceptional,” Scott added.
Before being appointed in 2007, Scott had planned to run for the 2008 election. He had spoken with former mayor Roberta Tonsing who encouraged him to run.
As a Road and Bridge employee, Scott views his experience with the county as an asset to the council when dealing with the city’s infrastructure.
Besides serving on the city council, he has been chairman of the Board of Variance and is a participant of Colorado’s Local Technical Assistance Program, which sponsors training classes for local, county and state highway workers.
Judging from his experience on the council as well as with the county, Scott said he thinks he can do a good job for the city. “I have no axes to grind,” he said. “I just want to help the town and the people.” He hopes he has served the people well the last four years and hopes to do so for another four.
Scott is originally from Johnstown and moved to Holyoke 24 years ago. His wife Karen is a former teacher at Holyoke Elementary School. They have a daughter, Kelsey, who is a senior at Colorado State University.
When he has a spare minute, Scott enjoys helping area farmers on a part-time basis. He also enjoys hunting and fishing.
Tonsing has served as Holyoke’s mayor since Aug. 17, 2010. Council members voted him into office following the resignation of David Nygaard.
He was originally elected to the council in 2008.
“It’s been going good,” Tonsing said of the last 19 months serving as mayor. “We have a good council, we have a good staff.”
Tonsing filed for election because, “I actually really like it.” He also said he has the time to devote to it. “It’s not a part-time thing.”
With there being a lot of turnover within the council, Tonsing feels they have made it through because everyone works real well together. He noted those who have left have been great council members but the togetherness of the council kept things flowing and didn’t disrupt things.
When asked what it meant to him to be mayor of Holyoke, Tonsing wasn’t sure what to say. He said it’s not much different than sitting on the council. The only kicker is “you’re leader of the pack.” He said all the decisions are still made as a council.
Tonsing has been an active member of the Holyoke community for many years. He moved to Holyoke in 1955 and ran Holyoke Cleaners for 45 years before retiring. Tonsing was also a volunteer firefighter for 21 years.
Tonsing has been the secretary of the Fire Protection District since 1986. He’s also the secretary of BeCause, an organization he helped found in 1986.
Twice, he has been president of the Northeast Colorado Fire Fighters’ Association and has also been president of the Colorado State Fire Fighters’ Association.
Tonsing is also a member of BPOE and Zion Lutheran Church.
Tonsing said he doesn’t have any goals but after thinking, a long-term goal would be to find a place for an industrial park. He noted it would be difficult because of land prices and location.
Tonsing currently serves on the office committee and is the municipality representative for Phillips County on the Northeast Colorado Association of Local Governments.
Holyoke Enterprise March 22, 2012