The Mesa City Council on Thursday appointed business owner and engineer Darrell Truitt to replace former Councilman Rex Griswold as the representative in the city’s northeastern District 5.
The appointment follows Griswold’s departure last month from the council to run for the mayor’s post. The city election will be held in March, when Mesa voters will choose a new mayor and new council members.
Truitt, 57, was among four finalists that city officials had tagged to temporarily fill the vacant seat.
Truitt, president of Mesa-based EPS Group Inc., was picked over Mesa residents Phil Austin, Terry Benelli and John Perkinson.
Perkinson owns a real estate development company. Austin is a civil rights attorney and president of the Mesa Association of Hispanic Citizens. Benelli operates the Mesa-based Neighborhood Economic Development Corp.
Councilman Tom Rawles expressed reservations Thursday about appointing Truitt because Truitt said he was not sure whether he will run for a permanent spot in District 5.
“He becomes an incumbent,” Rawles said. “It’s easier to raise money. You can put up signs that say ‘keep’ or ‘retain’ (a candidate).”
In the end, Rawles voted with the rest of the council to appoint Truitt, who took the oath of office Thursday at the City Clerk’s Office.
“I’m pretty excited. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity,” Truitt said.
Truitt is the controlling partner in EPS Group, a engineering, planning and surveying group that recently developed a $10 million sewer system for Buckeye.
The company also was involved with planning high-profile projects such as Gilbert’s Spectrum Auto Mall and Banner Gateway Medical Center.
Truitt owns 25 percent of the company, which was founded in 2003, according to Arizona Corporation Commission records.
Truitt serves as Gilbert’s Design Review Board chairman, which reviews projects that are eventually voted on by the Town Council.
“I think I’ve got a lot of public works-planning background and public-process background,” he said.
Truitt said his hobbies revolve around family and church. He said he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Truitt said the city faces some major issues in the next several months. The council will have to decide whether to put another property-tax measure on the ballot next year — and it might choose to do so before the new council members are voted into office.
However, he was mum about whether he would run for the District 5 seat next spring. Nobody has officially filed as a candidate for the seat.
“I didn’t apply for this ... as a step toward serving on the council,” he said. “I think you surf for a little while, and maybe my mind would change.”