HAYDEN, Idaho — The chapter of a mayorless Hayden has closed and a time for healing has begun.
Longtime Hayden resident Scott Forssell was appointed to serve as interim Hayden mayor following a series of applicant interviews during a special meeting Monday evening in Hayden City Hall, as reported by our partners, The Coeur d'Alene Press.
"I appreciate the council having the confidence in me to lead the city for the next 20 months," Forssell said. "I'm excited about working with the council and city staff to try to chart a new course. A different course. I was so impressed with the council tonight, making amends for previous issues."
The nearly three-hour session ended on a high note as the roughly 30 attendees applauded Forssell's appointment. Tension that had plagued Hayden for more than two months seemed to melt away. Council President Matt Roetter issued a tearful apology for recent behavior, sharing that he has been under a lot of pressure as his wife and daughter are both undergoing cancer treatment.
"I want to apologize to anybody, including council members, staff or anybody that I've offended," Roetter said. "It's a very difficult time in my life, and I'm sorry. I, too, want to see peace. It's not easy to almost lose your spouse of 40-some years. It's hard, and I'm sorry."
Councilwoman Sandra White apologized to Councilman Roger Saterfiel for a comment about bias earlier in the meeting.
"I regret saying that and I look forward to working together with you," White said.
"I appreciate that," Saterfiel responded, "but I don't take things too personal. I've got a thick skin of working in government for 42 years."
Councilman Ed DePriest said he prays Hayden can leave the negativity that has transpired in the past.
"Let's move on and do the business of the people and avoid the divisiveness and the negative issues and please move forward," he said as people clapped.
The vote was 3-1 in favor of appointing Forssell, who is filling the void unexpectedly left by former Mayor Steve Griffitts when he resigned in February. Roetter, White and DePriest were the ayes while Saterfiel was the lone dissenting vote. He favored applicant Alan Davis, who is the chair of the Hayden Planning and Zoning Commission.
Council members were impressed by the education and leadership qualities presented by the applicants, including Davis, Forssell and local businessman Ian Cosby.
However, none discounted the knowledge and experience Forssell brings to the table regarding Hayden's comprehensive plan, fiscal responsibility and a focus on setting aside differences to accomplish the task at hand.
Forssell retired from the Bureau of Land Management, which provided him with extensive land use planning experience. He managed a large federal budget and a large federal program.
"I have a large sense of civic pride," he said. "I want to make the city of Hayden an even better place than it already is today."
He said he believes he is qualified because he has that civic pride as well as the ability to bring together people of opposing viewpoints.
"I try to make reasonable judgments based on facts, not emotions," Forssell said. "I feel that we have progress that we can make and all working together to make Hayden a better place."
Forssell said he is feeling good about the appointment and ready to take it on.
"Absolutely," he said. "Let's do it."
Forssell's wife, Stephanie Snook, smiled as she shared her reaction to his appointment.
"Anything that Scott undertakes, he is all in," she said.
Forssell will be sworn in at the next city council meeting May 10.