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Sparks fly over Billings City councilmember nomination - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Sparks fly over Billings City councilmember nomination

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BILLINGS - A new Ward 4 Billings City Councilmember was appointed Monday night, but only after another councilmember from the same ward blasted the nomination.

Reg Gibbs will replace Ryan Sullivan, who moved to Texas for a new job, was nominated by Mayor Bill Cole and required the council's majority approval. Gibbs is a Billings resident of more than 25 years as a counselor, entrepreneur, and small business owner.  

Councilmember Penny Ronning ripped Cole for the selection.

"I'm extremely disappointed by your selection, and I'm deeply opposed to it," Ronning said. She also addressed Gibbs, calling him a nice man and saying she had a nice conversation with him.

Council voted 8 to 2 in favor of Gibbs' nomination. Ronning and Councilmember Denise Joy voted against the selection.

Ronning suggested one of the other nine candidates should have been selected saying Ward 4 "overwhelmingly" preferred them. She did not specify the individual. 

"There wasn't even a single candidate that matched the person Ward 4 stated that they wanted," she said. "This council has been subjected to the leadership of older white males for the history of our community. We have the opportunity to change that and you chose not to take it."

Cole defended the selection and said of a straw pole to councilmembers, Gibbs was "identified as an acceptable candidate on the short list by more councilmembers than any of the other candidates."

Gibbs was nominated, as Cole explained, to mirror the sensibilities of Sullivan and not to stray from who was elected by the people. 

"I respect and appreciate your comments, Mrs. Ronning," Cole ended.

Councilmember Larry Brewster agreed with Cole, saying Gibbs' views allied with Sullivan.

"The other comment I would make is all this old white guys were elected by our constituents in an open, fair election. And to continue to be derogatory to the rest of us is kind of sad. We were elected. We're here to serve them because they chose us, not because of any other reason."

"I can't help it that I'm old," he said.

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