Stillwater News Press

Local News

April 5, 2012

UPDATE: Newest Stillwater City Councilor named

STILLWATER, Okla. — Philip Pina is Stillwater’s newest city council member following an appointment Thursday night.

Pina was selected from 18 candidates who applied to fill the vacant Council Seat 2, which was formerly held by John Bartley until he was elected mayor in early March. Each candidate participated in a five minute public interview to make their case for the position during Thursday’s special meeting.

“It was really a shock and a surprise,” Pina said following the council’s vote to appoint him.

A Boston native, Pina jokingly apologized for a northeastern twang that he hoped wouldn’t make it hard to understand him. He previously lived in Agra for more than three years, where he served on the town council before moving to Stillwater — where Pina has lived for the past 15 years.

He describes himself as semi-retired and works with special needs students at Stillwater Middle School. Pina also serves on the Community Relations Committee, and he served in that capacity as a moderator for two public meetings including one in 2011 during which residents could ask councilors questions shortly after an initial budget estimate showed a 25 percent cut to the Stillwater Public Library.

Councilors complimented his ability to moderate during that meeting when emotions were running very high and asked what he took away from the experience.

“There’s polarization here,” Pina responded during his interview. “There are sides and there are factions ... but I learned if we opened it up to discussion and look at all the facts we can begin to come to a consensus.”

Having seen Pina firsthand be able to interact with members of public in difficult situations really helped set him apart, Bartley said. Pina’s experience in Agra, Bartley said, also helped make him a top choice because he had councilor experience but also brought an outside perspective to Stillwater’s challenges.

“His prior experience — (that was) not here — was an intriguing mix,” he said. “That caught my attention.”

Pina said there wasn’t any issue in particular that led him to seek the position, but he felt like he could bring some new perspective and ideas to the council to help give back.

“I’ve been treated very fairly in Stillwater,” he said. “I have a lot of friends here, so I feel like I owe Stillwater something.”

Pina’s first meeting as councilor will be Monday’s study session on next year’s budget.

Following the interviews, each councilor ranked their top four candidates on a ballot. A first ranking garnered four points, second meant three points and so on, meaning a first place vote from all four councilors would give the nominee 16 points. The candidate with the highest point total would then be nominated in the form a motion that had to be approved by a council vote.

Pina got 14 points with three top rankings and one third-place vote from Vice Mayor Chuck Hopkins, putting him ahead of three other candidates that tied with four points. Pina was the only candidate to be on all four councilor’s ballots and was confirmed with a unanimous vote.

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