A few weeks ago, I was honored to have my peers on city council elect me as the new Mayor Pro Tem for 2023. After hearing about this new position, many people congratulated me, and then pulled me aside to ask, What the heck is a Mayor Pro Tem and what do they do?
On paper, the Mayor Pro Tem is responsible for setting the meeting agendas before council meetings and adding emergency agenda items when necessary. The Mayor Pro Tem also fills in for the mayor whenever he/she is absent. They also have the fun role of training new city council members after their election.
During my term on council, we have had two different Mayor Pro Tems. Janeece Hoppe held that role when I was elected three years ago and was re-elected for two other year terms. My fellow councilors and I were lucky to have her guidance after first being elected. She brought in every department in the city to give us a “crash course” in how all of the city staff and departments work and work together. That orientation has been so valuable to all of us as we work to make decisions for the city. Last year we elected Rachel Hultin as the Mayor Pro Tem, she has been a fantastic leader and guiding voice as we work to set priorities for the future of Wheat Ridge. Both of these amazing women have left me with a large role to fill, and I am fortunate to be able to continue to draw on their experience as I take on this new challenge, all while making it my own.
I’ve been fortunate to grow up with some great role models. My Grandfather Hank served as Wheat Ridge’s mayor through much of the 1970s and ‘80s. My father Mike was a city councilor for 10 years and served as the Mayor Pro Tem multiple times. They taught me so much as a child and young adult about how important it is to serve your community and what it is to take a leadership role. As I tackle this new position, I will continue to draw on the many lessons they shared with me. They always put a priority on listening and trying to do what is best for the people they served.
Wheat Ridge has seen a great deal of growth and change over the last several years. We have weathered a pandemic and, in many ways, come out stronger. As we continue to move forward, it is important to hold onto the things that make Wheat Ridge a great place to live, work and play. As the Mayor Pro Tem, I will continue to push and prioritize projects and agenda items that will be most beneficial to the people of Wheat Ridge and help us continue to thrive as a community in the coming decades.
Korey Stites is Mayor Pro Tem of Wheat Ridge City Council and represents District III.