Casper City Council chose long-time local attorney Dallas Laird to fill a vacant council seat during a special meeting Friday.

Laird, 70, will fill the position after Councilmember Todd Murphy resigned April 5.

Before Councilwoman Amanda Huckabay made the motion to name Laird, Charlie Powell said the decision was tough because all seven candidates were good and they applied knowing the city was going through some tough times.

"This has been a very challenging time for council," Powell said.

"We've had some difficult events -- the resignation of former Councilman Murphy, and the resignation of our city manager, the controversy involving our police chief and the police department, and of course all of the allegations from the women who have been victimized who have complained about their treatment. It's just been kind of a difficult stretch."

People have called the council incompetent, and that it's members haven't been working well together, he said.

As a result, people have told him the council wouldn't receive any applications to fill the vacancy, Powell said.

At that, he complimented those who did apply: Laird, Ken Bates, Lauri Gobble, Monte Henrie, Jr., Tim Kugler, Grace Niemitalo and Paul Paad. Henrie withdrew his name from consideration on Friday.

The candidates were given questions in advance and 10 minutes to address the council. Questions asked about their backgrounds, why they wanted to serve on the city council, their ability to meet the time commitments of council and related meetings, and whether they intended to run for re-election.

Regarding the latter question, Laird said he would not run for-re-election if he believed he was not being effective or if council engaged in a lot of squabbling.

Laird grew up in Casper. He earned his bachelor of science and law degrees from the University of Wyoming, according to his website. He specializes in personal injury, trucking accidents, product liability, toxic exposure and commercial litigation. He has been a prosecutor for the City of Casper, a Natrona County public defender, and served on boards of the Wyoming Medical Center and the Casper-Natrona County Airport.

After the meeting, Laird said he wants to bring a calming influence to the council.

"I think it's a matter of honoring people," he said. "We've got great city employees. We've got a great city council; a lot of people don't believe that, but I believe it. They're all people doing the best and they want to be the best."

Laird will be sworn into office during a special meeting of the council at 3 p.m. Monday.

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