Council to discuss special election in handling vacancy

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


The Washington City Council is expected to determine if a special election will be called to fill the vacancy in the Ward 1 seat left when council member Kerry Janecek resigned April 27.

The agenda for the council meeting contains items in which the council can vote to appoint a member to fill the vacancy until the November election or to call for a special election to fill the seat. According to Iowa law, the council has 60 days to appoint someone to the vacancy. Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said today that four people had inquired about the position and one person who submitted an expression of interest form for the position. Hinson declined to give the name of the person who applied.

?I really see council leaning toward calling for a special election,? he said. ?It probably won?t matter until that person files.?

During the May 1 meeting, council member Steve Gault said that he wanted the council to hold a special election to fill the seat, saying that being a council member is an elected position and he felt the people should determine who will represent them. While the next scheduled election is in November, Hinson said if the council called for a special election on another issue, such as a bond referendum, the person would have to be in that election.

Janecek?s term expires on Jan. 1, 2020, but an appointee would only hold the position until the next regular election. If the council elects to appoint a candidate to the seat, people in the community have 14 days to apply for a special election.

If the council opts to have a special election, it would be held on June 19, or the earliest possible date.

Hinson said if the council calls for a special election or if a petition forces it, as occurred last time there was a vacancy, the election would likely cost $1,800 to $2,500.

?While appointing to fill the vacancy is probably the most common route pursued, this is a decision that is fully in the hands of the council,? Hinson said. ?There is no right or wrong answer.?