At the Casper City Council meeting on Tuesday, council convened to cast a preliminary straw poll for who will be the new mayor and vice mayor for the city, and voted to elect Ray Pacheco and Steve Freel as mayor and vice mayor respectively.

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The straw poll that was held is only a preliminary one to gauge what the final vote may end up being to seat the new mayor and vice mayor in January.

Before the vote, council member Bruce Knell said he believed there was the possibility of collusion with the mayor and vice mayor having meetings with the city manager before regular meetings.

"The appearance of impropriety, the opportunity for collusion is high and I don't like it, and I don't 'think it's right, and so in my opinion I think we need to go back to the old way that they used to do it in this city. There should be more council people involved in those meetings so that there is more transparency."

In response, vice mayor Ray Pacheco said that the meetings Knell was referring to, between the city manager and the mayor before regular meetings, aren't something where collusion takes place.

"It's not anybody doing anything, I've been a part of this council for eight years, those meetings that we have for the city manager are straight up and as honest as you possibly can be. We used to have our council lunch meetings with our council members. Those were done away with because people didn't have time. The implication that there is some type collusion is an absolute slap in the face of this council."

Mayor Steve Freel said that he also heavily disagrees with Knells characterization.

"The only thing I want to add to all this is that the last two years of what we've gone through in your eyes has been, were just a bunch of liars. I'd like to know at what point in time we pulled the wool over anybody's eyes or have done anything wrong period. So with that being said, I've been the mayor the last two years, and I respectfully will withdrawal my name from the mayors position so that there can be new leadership to come into this."

Following their comments, Freel, who was nominated for mayor, and Pacheco, who was nominated for vice mayor, both withdrew their nominations.

At the end of the meeting, Knell apologized for some of his comments, that he didn't mean to disrespect anybody and was only trying to address comments that some of his constitutes had brought up.

Pacheco said at the end of the meeting that he appreciates what Knell had just said and that he hopes this could be a learning moment to reach across the aisle and understand where people are coming from.

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