Carbondale’s newly sworn-in trustees (from left to right): Erica Sparhawk (re-elected), Colin Laird and Chris Hassig. Photo by Raleigh Burleigh

It can be a bittersweet moment in a healthy representative democracy. Elected officials of yesteryear humbly step down as the newly-chosen leaders assume their responsibilities. Tuesday’s Board of Town Trustees meeting was such a moment. The audience included family and friends and the session’s entirety focused on this ceremony, the changing of the guard.

Many words of kindness and support were exchanged.

“This board exemplifies what government should be,” said outgoing youth representative to the board, Boden Hamilton.

“Good government is fragile and important and requires a community like this,” stated Ben Bohmfalk, just previous to being sworn in as mayor. “We’ve got two past mayors, one current and the next one here, and I think even that just speaks so much to this community’s cohesion. We don’t all think alike, we don’t all agree on everything, but we’re one community and we’re going to keep working on making it better.”

Outgoing mayor Dan Richardson offered his “unsolicited parting thoughts” to the new board. “Of all the many issues that will come before you, I suggest that you give particular consideration to your power. As a person with power, you have endless opportunities to wield it, either implicitly or explicitly. Ponder that, because how you respond to those opportunities has enormous impact, regardless of your choice to act, or not to act … You get to choose, with each decision and each encounter. Our community, and its members, deserve a thoughtful approach.”

Readers interested in listening to Richardon’s outgoing speech, along with other comments, can review the archive on YouTube by searching for the channel called “Town of Carbondale.”

Outgoing trustee Heather Henry was honored for her “articulate expertise,” in the words of Erica Sparhawk, and “expansive knowledge” in the words of Lani Kitching, especially in regard to land use and zoning. Henry will remain involved as Carbondale’s representative for the multi-jurisdictional housing coalition, which will begin meeting in-person this May.

Outgoing trustee Luis Yllanes, who received the fourth highest number of votes in the election, carried a clipboard to the meeting, collecting signatures to apply for reappointment. He would complete the remaining two years of Bohmfalk’s term, vacated to serve as mayor.

Kitching also announced that the COVID-19 testing tent outside Town Hall will remain in action at least through June. The site was going to close by May, however, an uptick in cases locally and nationally will keep the resource available, with added testing times on Saturdays.

Carbondale’s four most recent mayors, from left to right: Ben Bohmfalk (sworn in April 26, 2022), Michael Hassig (2002-2010), Dan Richardson (2016-2022) and Stacy Bernot (2010-2016). Photo by Raleigh Burleigh