Town council has new leadership


PENDLETON — Pendleton Town Council has new leadership at the top after President Chet Babb announced he would not seek to continue in the position for personal reasons.
At the start of the regular council meeting Thursday, Jan. 12, after town attorney Jeff Graham called on the council to elect its president and vice president, Babb spoke.
“Before we do that, I’ve got something I’d like to let people know. I am not going to be the president or accept the nomination … it’s been one of my toughest years healthwise, and I think it’s time for some younger people to come in and do some things.”
“That being said, I’m going to nominate Marissa Skaggs for president of the council,” said Babb, a Democrat representing District 1, who’s council term expires at the end of this year.
The council proceeded to vote unanimously for Skaggs.
Skaggs joined the council in November 2020 after a Republican caucus; she filled the vacancy created after Councilwoman Jessica Smtih stepped down halfway through her term. It’s one of the five-member council’s two at-large seats.
Skaggs was elected in November 2022 with 70% of the vote, after her challenger, Democrat Josh Ring, withdrew from the race but not in time for his name to be taken off the ballot.
In a Q&A response prior to the 2022 election, explaining why she was running, Skaggs said, “Above all, I love Pendleton! I care about my neighbors and the town’s future. There was an intense learning curve when I joined the council. During my term, I have learned so much about municipal government and how it functions, that I feel empowered to continue serving.”
At the time, she said the top three challenges facing Pendleton involve managing growth, prioritizing needs within the town’s budget and “maintaining our history and the integrity of our downtown as Pendleton.”
In response to the question “Are there specific actions you’d like to see the council take to improve the town?” Skaggs wrote: “I think that an emphasis on connectivity for all areas of Pendleton is an important issue. Pendleton encompasses just over 13 square miles of land and approximately 50% of that land is west of the interstate. It would be great if all residents had safe accessibility to the downtown area via foot or bicycle. While important work will always take place in monthly council meetings, I would love to see our town council get out of the council chambers and host more opportunities for the community to ask questions or share ideas. Pendleton is fortunate to have a community of engaged citizens working with a variety of local organizations and nonprofits; any support the council can offer to those groups should be a priority.”
Skaggs, who thanked Babb for his “stewardship and leadership over tha last three years” during the meeting, later said her thoughts about town hadn’t changed, that “the main thing for me is Pendleton is sitting in a really strong position.
“It’s truly a team effort,” she said, explaining that there are a lot of committed people involved in town. “I feel as though we’re really in a good spot.”
The council also voted unanimously for Shane Davis, a Republican whose term for his at-large seat expires at the end of this year, to remain council vice president.
In addition to Babb, Skaggs and Davis, the other council members are Democrat Steve Denny, whose District 2 term also expires at the end of December; and Republican Jennifer Roberts, who was at her first council meeting since being elected in November in a contested race. She replaces longtime District 3 Republican council member Bob Jones, who did not run.
In other business, the council:
Tabled a decision on whether to enter a legal agreement involving increased fees set by Madison County Dispatch Center. “The contract is a pre-litigation contract,” town attorney Jeff Graham said. “It’s to negotiate a deal with the county, that works for the county, works for everybody, so that public safety isn’t affected.” The council decided to seek more information, including who is committed to joining, before deciding whether to proceed.
Renamed a north-south portion of Laurel Street to West Street. Laurel Street runs mostly east-west, but at the east end there’s a 90-degree turn and the road runs a block northward to Tile Street. West Street heads north of Tile Street.
The change is to avoid confusion as new development takes place in the area, so that the houses along the north-south roadway all have West Street addresses.
Rezoned a 1.3-acre parcel of land at 3310 Angle Road, formerly Church of Christ, from institutional to general business, so the owner can use the building for business purposes.
Skaggs also tabled making appointments to the town’s many boards and commissions “until we can meet cohesively as a group to figure that out.”

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