New Casper Mayor and Vice Mayor Elected in Spite of Interruption
The Casper city council voted unanimously to elect Ray Pacheco and Steve Freel as mayor and vice mayor respectively, and afterward, a man named Tracy Lamont spoke long enough to force everyone out of the meeting room.
Lamont came up to speak following the swearing-in of Pacheco and Freel and spoke longer than the allotted five minutes for public hearings.
While he was speaking, Lamont accused Freel of corruption, claimed to be a U.S. marshal since 1993, and when Pacheco said his speaking time was up, accused the new mayor of "running interference."
Several police officers then came up to Lamont to attempt to get him to leave, and when he would not, Pacheco had everyone move out of the room while police officers talked to Lamont.
After several minutes, Lamont left the building without incident, and there was no further mention of him for the rest of the meeting.
Pacheco said, in a prepared speech after being sworn in as mayor, how grateful he was for the work of former mayor Freel, and that he hopes to be able to meet any challenges in the coming year.
"We've come to a watershed moment in this county, and it is a turning point that needs to start with this council," Pacheco said. "Where we must lead with courage, knowing that we won't always agree, and when we do disagree we can walk away from this dais seeing each other with dignity and respect. This coming year, I challenge this council to find ways to be examples of that courage. To recognize the humanity in others. To lead with compassion, understanding, and hope. There are many young people in this chamber tonight. My sincere hope is that we can set examples for these young people for how government can work together for the betterment of this great community."
Freel said how thankful he was for all the kind words from other members of the council, and that he believes the current council is one of the best he's worked with.
"But having you there with me Ray, it certainly helped out all along the way," Freel said. "I look forward to this continued relationship here. This sitting council by far has been...does more research, you look into things, you listen to all sides, I don't think I've seen a better sitting council that takes more time to get to the bottom of issues and I appreciate that 100%. As each issue comes up, and we have discussions about it, they are thoughtful, well-thought-out discussions. I look forward to one more year of that, and even if some of them are very lengthy discussions, I still look forward to it."
At the end of the meeting, several council members wished Pacheco good luck in his new position and appreciated the role that Freel played as mayor for the past two years.