Helena swears in new leadership
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
Helena’s first new mayor in 44 years said he is “hitting the ground running” after he and the city’s new council members were sworn in during a Nov. 5 meeting at Helena City Hall.
During the meeting, which drew about 150 visitors, new Helena Mayor Mark Hall and City Council members Leigh Hulsey, Mike Jones, Cris Nelson, Leslie Bartlett and Hal Woodman officially began their four-year terms.
After the elected officials were sworn in by Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Bill Bostick, the council members elected Nelson as the council president and named Hulsey as the council president pro-tem. The council also reappointed Amanda Traywick as the Helena city clerk and named Hall the director of the Helena Utilities Department.
Hall replaced longtime Helena Mayor Sonny Penhale, who he defeated in a runoff election in early October.
Because the Helena mayor also serves as the Utilities Department director and is paid for the position, Hall said he will donate his mayoral salary to the city’s general fund and will allow his city-supplied vehicle to be used by another department.
“I didn’t want to have two salaries,” Hall said. “So I will donate my mayor salary to the city.”
Hall said he is spending his first few days in office meeting with department heads and getting settled into his new office. Hall is the first Helena mayor to not be a voting member of the council, as Helena’s population growth necessitated the shift from a strong-mayor system of government to a weak-mayor system beginning this term.
The council also shifted its meeting nights from the second and fourth Mondays to the first and third Mondays at 6 p.m.