A few weeks ago, Judy Bell was putting in long hours as a Sandy councilwoman for the paltry annual salary of $8,300.
This week, she's still working hard, her desk is stacked with papers and in many ways her work is similar to what she was doing as a councilwoman. But now she's making $65,000 a year.Largely to thank for Bell's new job and hefty raise is her political ally, Mayor Tom Dolan. Despite the concerns of some City Council members, Dolan managed to garner the council's full support for Bell's appointment earlier this month as the city's new public utilities director and special projects coordinator. The 51-year-old, the city's first female council chair when she served in that capacity for the first six months of 1995, began her new assignment Aug. 15. She is only the second female department head in the city's 101-year history.
"It was the most thankless job I've ever had in my life," Bell said of serving on the council. "I was very committed. I did the best I could but that wasn't enough.
"I could've gotten re-elected, but (Dolan) felt like I could do more for the city by being on the inside, by being part of the ad-min-is-tra-tion."
At its first September meeting, the council is expected to appoint someone to serve the remainder of Bell's at-large term, which expires Dec. 31. The council has said it will not name a replacement from among the candidates seeking elec-tion.
Bell, co-owner of an advertising and printing business, now manages the city's water company. She also is in charge of such projects as creating the city's first municipally owned golf course and examining the feasibility of the city owning its own electric company.
"I believe Judy has demonstrated over the past 3 1/2 years that she has been a very knowledgable and effective council person with knowledge and understanding of the budget process," Dolan said. "She's served on the water board for several years now, and one of the things we looked at for that position was someone with real business experience, because (the utility department) functions as a business. We have a number of engineers that do the engineering part."
Bell said during her campaign in 1991 that integrity was the major issue facing elected officials. She called for "fair and honest" representation for citizens. As a result, Bell says she is sensitive to suggestions that her appointment may have been inappropriate. Mostly, though, Bell has heard questions about her experience, or possible lack thereof.
"Many people are just pleased, and they know I'll continue doing a great job and will be an asset for Tom and all of the city and the residents," Bell said. "And of course there are other people who say I'm not qualified and incompetent and blah, blah, blah."
And then there were those, namely members of the City Council, who cautioned Dolan about the potential political ramifications of promoting an elected official from a position that pays $8,300 a year to one that pays about eight times that amount - and just a few weeks before she would have had to file for re-election.
"I told him, `Hey, how the public is going to perceive this could be a negative for you and might cost you a future election,' " said City Council Chairman Stan Price. "He didn't seem worried about it."
Perhaps that's because Dolan, who has not said whether he plans to seek re-election in 1997, has had other appointments questioned by the council. But in Price's opinion, all of those hired by Dolan - Police Chief Sam Dawson, Fire Chief Don Chase, economic development director Dan Simons, parks and recreation director Nancy Shay and public works director Rick Smith - have turned out to be solid choices.
"One of the things that you have an opportunity to do as mayor is to appoint people you believe will be able to do the best job for the community," Dolan said. "I think I've chosen some good people that have been very beneficial to the city. I obviously believe the same will be true with Judy."