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Council seeks applicants to fill vacancy

 

June 21, 2016



The Sweet Home City Council is accepting applications through July 1 to fill a vacancy.

Bruce Hobbs resigned from the position on May 24. The council discussed how to fill the vacancy during its next regular meeting, which was held on June 14.

The council will hold interviews at 6 p.m. on July 12. Its regular meeting will follow at 7:30 p.m., and the council will appoint a new councilor.

The council discussed different options for filling the vacancy, including holding off until the November election. The term for the vacant position expires on Dec. 31, and it is subject to the November general election.

The candidate filing period for City Council is currently open. Candidates may file applications through 5 p.m. on Aug. 30.

In addition to the vacant position, seats held by Dave Trask, Mayor Jim Gourley and James Goble also are open for election this fall.

No one had filed for the election as of last Thursday.

In the election, the three candidates receiving the most votes will serve four-year terms. The fourth-place candidate will serve a two-year term. In January, the council will elect its mayor from among the councilors.

Candidates must be registered voters who have lived inside the city limits for at least one year.

During last week’s meeting, Gourley told the council it had a couple of options in filling the vacancy.

Councilor Ryan Underwood said that the council could go through its process and then, in a matter of months, following the election, the new councilor could be rotating out. He didn’t think the council should invest the time and effort.

Councilor Jeff Goodwin noted that the position has a learning curve, and it takes time to get up to speed.

He suggested holding off until the election and then filling the vacancy based on the result of the election.

City Attorney Robert Snyder said the City Charter doesn’t set a time frame for filling a vacancy.

Goodwin moved to table filling the vacancy until the council’s regular meeting on Nov. 22.

“There’s no opportunity for the public to input on the council vacancy,” said Jane Hazen, a Sweet Home resident and chairwoman of the Parks Board, prior to the council’s vote on the motion.

Gourley explained that tabling an item is a procedural motion and not debatable under Roberts Rules of Order, which governs council meetings.

The council voted 3-3, and the motion failed. Voting to table the vacancy were Underwood, Goodwin and Greg Mahler. Voting against tabling it were Trask, Goble and Gourley.

“I think this is one of the reasons to have seven of us,” Trask said, referring to the tie vote. On a six-member council, a motion fails on a tie vote. “I think we should (fill the vacancy now) and get it done. I just hate to see a 3-3 stalemate.”

One of the problems, Gourley said, is that appointing a replacement now gives a candidate a leg up in the upcoming election. That’s something that’s hard to do this close to an election.

But Trask has a point too, Gourley said. The council needs seven members to avoid ties.

It requires four votes either way, Goodwin said.

Trask said he doesn’t know whether such appointments give candidates a leg up in the election, but if someone is interested in serving on the council, that person should be involved now.

“I just feel like it’s rushing it,” Goodwin said, and it’s still the council making the decision instead of the people.

Hazen encouraged the council to go ahead and fill the position. She represents a new Coalition of Women Voters, which plans to submit a slate of council candidates in the fall. The group didn’t have a candidate for the vacancy yet, but she believed it would have one by the deadline.

The organization’s goal is to increase participation of women on the council, to represent 52 percent of the population, Hazen said.

Mahler said he was willing to change his decision on the matter and fill the position earlier because the council has a number of important decisions coming up.

Following the discussion, the council voted 5-1 to move forward in July. Voting to fill the vacancy earlier were Mahler, Goble, Trask, Goodwin and Gourley. Underwood voted against moving forward now.

Anyone interested in filling the vacancy or running for City Council should call the city manager’s office at (541) 367-8969 or stop by at 1140 12th Ave.

 
 
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