Caucus selects Mundy to fill council seat


Phil Mundy

JASPER — Sporting a suit and tie, Phil Mundy pointed to the sleek, black shoes on his feet and chuckled. He owns Adventures Recreation & Gear in downtown Jasper, and the dress code at his business is a little more casual than the formal get-up he wore to Saturday’s special Republican party caucus at Jasper City Hall.

After being selected by a caucus to fill an open Jasper Common Council seat, however, Mundy said he’ll have to get used to wearing the kicks around the building.

The Jasper man gave himself a “9 percent chance” of winning before the voting began on the snowy morning. Now, he’s in for a year of work — possibly more if he decides to run for re-election later this year.

“For me, I’ve always enjoyed helping out in the community,” said Mundy, 55. “And I think this is kind of a natural journey for me.”

The at-large seat he filled was vacated by Dean Vonderheide when he was chosen to be the city’s mayor late last month. Vonderheide knows Mundy personally and said he will be a great addition to the council. His advice to the council newcomer was to continue to listen and to do what he knows is right for Jasper.

Selecting Mundy was a roughly hourlong process for the committee members. After each of the 11 applicants for the seat were given two minutes to speak, caucus voters went through three rounds of balloting before Mundy was named the winner. The same 13 committee people who voted in the caucus to appoint Vonderheide voted in the common council caucus.

In the final round, Mundy and fellow seat-seeker Merrill Osterman sat tied at six votes a piece. Mark Messmer, the Republican party chair, broke the tie.

“Either one would be an outstanding choice to fill the vacancy,” Messmer said after the event. “[I] had to make the unenviable choice as county chairman to break the tie, and with Phil Mundy’s downtown business experience and time within the community I just felt he would be the better of the two. But either one would have been outstanding.”

Mundy said the field was filled with talented and professional applicants, and he was humbled when he received the nod from the committee.

Media was not allowed inside the caucus room, but when reflecting on his two minute spiel, he said he talked mainly about how Jasper’s predecessors have done a good job of setting out a plan for the future, and how he’d like to continue on that path.

“I’ve been in business for 25 years in the downtown area, and I see all that’s going on in the area, and just want to make sure it continues,” Mundy said. “Very proud of the city of Jasper.”

Mundy also talked about his young adult children. He sees their friends leaving Jasper and wants to find a way to keep them in the community.

As the applicants and caucus voters filed out of city hall, Messmer said the applicant field at Saturday’s caucus was the largest he could remember. That is meaningful to him.

“I think that exemplifies just how excited people are about how good the city is moving as a whole,” he said.

“People are just excited about what’s happening to Jasper and want to be a part of that. And the high degree of interest just reflects how great people think it is to live in Jasper.”

Mundy lives in Jasper with his wife, Karen. They have two adult children, Ben and Anna.

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