The new Casper City Council tentatively chose former mayor Kenyne Humphrey as its new major for 2017 during a straw poll during an informal work session Tuesday.

Council chose her over contenders and current members Charlie Powell and Shawn Johnson.

Humphrey was mayor in 2009, 2012 and 2013.

The nonpartisan council also selected Ray Pacheco as vice mayor. Pacheco was the only council member vying for that position.

The new council will formally choose its leadership at its meeting on Jan. 3.

Voters returned two -- Powell and Bob Hopkins -- of the five incumbents seeking re-election in the November general election. The new members are Amanda Huckabay, Jesse Morgan, Todd Murphy and Chris Walsh.

The mayor serves in a first-among-equals position on the council, which hires a city manager to oversee the day-to-day operations of the city. While often ceremonial, the mayor directs discussions and sets agendas.

After the straw poll, Humphrey said the city's tight budget will continue to dominate discussions.

She also wants to take a look at how efficiently council uses its time.

"I have a lot of suggestions right now that I want to share with our council on how to reformat a little bit so that our time is spent maybe a little bit more focused on the big issues that face our community," Humphrey said.

Besides the council itself, members serve on a number of boards such as the Amoco Reuse Joint Powers Board and the Regional Water Board.

The board positions will continue to exist, but she's thinking of ways for council members to focus on issues that are more encompassing and streamlined, she said.

Among the issues facing the new council is the future of the proposed convention center that would be built by the Parkway Plaza on its property on East E Street, but with $5 million of city-funded infrastructure improvements in the area on North Center Street near Interstate 25.

"Given the state of the economy and our budget, I don't know that's a top priority right now," Humphrey said. "I think its time to really focus on services and spending money as carefully as we can, and that's how we're probably going to move forward."

Among those services are the city's round-the-clock efforts to plow the streets and remove the snow during and after the recent storm and ferocious winds.

"Unfortunately, when the wind blows like this, it's humanly just not possible to keep up with it, she said. "That being said, should an idea or option come out, we'd definitely would look at it."

The cost is high for such a service with such a storm, Humphrey said.

"One of the last pretty intense snowstorms when I was mayor was about a million-dollar event, so I wouldn't be surprised to see us hit a million dollars," she said.

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