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Gillette Mayor resigns after disparaging text messages leaked

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Jimmy Emerson
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Gillette Mayor Louise Carter-King announcedher resignation on Jan. 6 afterapologizing earlier in the week at a city council meeting for alengthy series of text messages that were sent via email to members of the city council, city clerk, and other unnamed individuals.

The texts, which amount to 464 pages of conversations between Carter-King and former City Administrator Patrick Davidson, span from Nov. 2019 to June 2020. In the exchanges, Carter-King made several disparaging comments about local elected and appointed officials, county commissioners, department heads, attorneys, and even members of the community.

The Gillette City Council convened for a special session on Jan. 7, just a day after Carter-King’s resignation became effective. The aim was to select a new mayor who will fill out the remainder of Carter-King’s term, which expires at the end of the year.

Despite the council’s desire to quickly fill the vacancy, there was some reservation about selecting a successor so quickly.

“This is something that we need to take some time, to do some soul searching, listen to constituents, and just take the necessary steps to pick out the best person for this job,” said Councilman Tim Carsrud.

The council then voted 4-2 to postpone the selection of a new mayor until a regularly scheduled city council meeting on Feb. 1.

Under Wyoming state law, the next mayor must come from a current member of the city council.

“Statutorily, it has to be a member of the city’s governing body, so it’d be, in this case, one of the councilmen,” said City Attorney Sean Brown. “There is an obligation to fill it, but the timeframe for which to get that done is not clearly defined.”

Under Wyoming law, the president of the city council becomes the acting mayor if there is a vacancy until a new mayor is selected or elected. President of the city council Nathan McLeland is now acting mayor. The council also voted to approve councilman Shay Lundvall as the new president of the council.

Carter-King’s resignation ends over 30 years of elective service to the City of Gillette. She was elected mayor in 2014 and first elected to the city council in 1990. Carter-King was the second generation of her family to serve as mayor. Her father, Herb Carter, held that position from 1982-1990.

Davidson served as City Administrator from Dec. 2017 to Feb. 2021. The city didn’t give a reason for his departure.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.

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