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One Short On Council: Appoint Or Elect?

By Staff | Oct 5, 2010

Emmetsburg Ward 2 City Council representative Pat Degen resigned at the Sept. 27 meeting. He cited personal reasons for his resignation.

Degen has represented Ward 2 for 11 years. There is one year left on his term of office.

City Councilman Brian Campbell recommended a document be drafted, recognizing Degen for his years of service.

Emmetsburg City Council is faced with how to fill the vacancy left by Degen’s resignation. There are two procedures for filling vacancies: appoint or special election.

The Iowa League of Cities’ website identifies the options and spells out the procedure for each option. Alan Kemp, Director of Membership Services, has a question and answer section on the website.

Appointment – Kemp writes: “If the city council decides to fill the vacancy by appointment, a notice of intent is required to be published ‘not less than four nor more than 20 days before the date the council considers the appointment,’ in accordance with Section 362.3 of the Code of Iowa.”

The notice must identify the vacancy and state the intent of the council to make an appointment to fill the vacancy, then give the date, time and place of the meeting when that appointment will be made. And, the appointment must be made within 40 days of the date that the vacancy occurred.

Petition for Election – Kemp writes: “If the city council chooses to fill a vacancy by appointment, the public can petition for a special election to fill the vacancy. The petition must be filed within 14 days after the appointment is made or the notice is published, whichever is later, and contain a sufficient number of signatures of eligible electors of the city.”

Emmetsburg has a population of less than 10,000, so the number of signatures required to petition for a special election is at least 200 or at least the number of signatures equal to 15-percent of voters who voted for the candidates for office on the ballot at the preceding regular election, whichever is fewer. In all cases, the minimum number of signatures cannot be less than ten.

Councilman Degen was re-elected in 2007 and 191 votes were cast in that ward. Therefore, according to information from the County Auditor’s office, it would require 29 signatures on a petition for a special election. A special election would cost the city an estimated $1,500 to fill this council position for the remaining one year of the councilman’s term.

Kemp points out, “If the city council chooses to fill the vacancy by special election, or must have a special election due to a petition, it may be held concurrently with any pending election.”

As far as identifying a candidate for appointment, Kemp notes: “Anyone that the council considers for appointment is required to meet the same qualifications as a candidate seeking to run for the office. Code of Iowa Section 39.27 requires that the candidate be an eligible elector and a resident of the city or ward for which the person seeks to represent. Assuming that the individual qualifies for office, there is no required procedure for identifying candidates for appointment. The city council can determine its own process for identifying potential candidates.”

Emmetsburg City Council will meet Monday, Nov. 11.

Council Proceedings

At the Sept. 27 meeting, Council representative Sandy Pelzer brought up parking on 2500 block of First Street. The question of no parking came up after an accident occurred on First Street, just before the intersection with Lawler. Currently there is no parking allowed on the north side of First Street in the 2500 block.

Police Chief Eric Hanson said that to govern no parking with regard to any street, a sign must be placed on each block.

Pelzer noted that historically, there has been no parking on First Street because it is an ambulance route. She noted this is something that should be discussed, and also pointed out that there are no sidewalks on that street.

City Administrator John Bird said there is not enough room in the right-of-way to put in sidewalks, but he agreed that there should not be parking on First Street.

“If the council recommended no parking you wouldn’t stand in the way of that?” asked Councilman Finer.

Council representative Pelzer requested an assessment of no parking from King Street east to Lawler.

“If that recommendation came to me, I’d be in contact with every residence on First Street to see if they have a concern with that or if it would be a benefit,” said Hanson.

“I’m making a request,” said Pelzer.

Mayor John Schad requested that Chief Hanson do an assessment and report back to the council.

A public hearing will be at 7 p.m. at the Oct. 11 Emmetsburg City Council meeting regarding public lake access regulations.