For just under two minutes on Wednesday, Soldotna had no mayor.
Current mayor Nels Anderson resigned and it took a few minutes for city council members to unanimously vote both to accept his resignation and then appoint him as interim mayor until the city’s October election.
He thanked council member for reappointing him after the vote, joking that he had been nervous.
“You never know how these things are going to go,” he said.
Anderson, whose three-year term is up in October of 2017, plans to travel to West Africa in 2016. But, had he resigned in December before he plans to leave, the city would have had to hold a special election.
According to his request to the council, Anderson wanted to resign and be reappointed with a term set to expire in October so a mayoral candidate could be selected during the regular elections, thus saving the city the cost of holding a special election.
Council members also took up a resolution that would appoint a sole mixed martial arts promoter for competitions held at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
City Manager Mark Dixson said the city has had issues with promoters who have withdrawn from events in the past and, according to the resolution, conflicts between promoters, dates, availability and community attendance have created a burden on the city.
“Over the years we’ve not had a generally good experience with promoters of mixed martial arts,” he said. “We really just wanted to work with one sole mixed martial arts promoter.”
City administration solicited proposals from mixed martial arts promoters in the area and selected “6 or 5 Productions,” as its most responsive and highest scoring respondent.
However, during the call for proposals, Dixson said he was emailed by a mixed martial arts promoter who had worked out a deal with another area promoter that the two could partner to offer the city services.
“We were in the middle of a (request for proposals) process and there may be other promoters out there so we really couldn’t get involved in any of those discussions at that time,” Dixson said. “Our only legal option at that point was to go through with the (request for proposals) as it was out there on the streets.”
Stephanie Clay, of Soldotna, said she represented Peninsula Fighting Championships or PFC.
Clay said she emailed Dixson after verbally agreeing with the other production company in the area that the two would prefer to administer their own fights. Clay said she was not aware of any other mixed martial arts promoters in the area.
“When you pick one or the other, you are limiting the business in the area. Both companies offer something different to the fighting community,” she said. “You’re limiting commerce, you’re limiting the ability to represent the community and give the community what they need. I don’t see that the city can lose in any way when you have free commerce and the different groups are willing to work together.”
Council members questioned why the city forced promoters allow a buffer of time between similar events.
“If I booked six particular dates, I could eat up a lot of time,” said council member Keith Baxter. “That does seem like something that should have been addressed.”
Council member Linda Murphy said she was not a mixed martial arts fan and had never been to one of the fights, but sympathized with the idea of allowing the market to decide how many fights it could sustain. She said she wasn’t sure if the city could back out of awarding a contract once it had gone through the request for proposals process.
“Are there legal consequences to a decision not to award to the person who scored the highest? I don’t want to put the city in a position where the winner of the (request for proposals) could come back on us and sue us for not awarding the contract,” she said.
Dixson said he would contact the city’s attorney for a legal opinion.
The council voted to postpone the resolution until its July 22 meeting.
Reach Rashah McChesney at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @litmuslens