Archive for Wednesday, January 30, 2008

McLouth calls off planned April council elections

Jefferson County councelor advises city against proposal to rectify error dating to 2002

January 30, 2008

McLouth residents won't be heading to the polls April 1.

At Tuesday's McLouth City Council meeting, Mayor Mike Graveman told residents that, at the direction of Jefferson County Counselor Mike Hayes, the city would not have an election in April.

At the Jan. 8 council meeting, the council approved a charter ordinance calling for an election for all six seats - which would have included the mayor's seat - in an attempt to rectify an error made through a 2002 ordinance.

City attorney Carol Ruth Bonebrake discovered the error earlier in the day Jan. 8 when reviewing documents with Graveman.

The council approved the ordinance that day, but Hayes later deemed that the election would not be valid.

Hayes' opinion, Graveman said, was that the current council remain until the next election in 2009.

One of the council seats has been vacant since June when Graveman, formerly council president, was appointed mayor to replace Gary Royer, who stepped down for job-related reasons.

"I think that Keith or I need to be appointed to get it taken care of it," said Barbara Hasemeier, also referring to Keith Meador. "It shouldn't be this way anymore."

Hasemeier had filed to run for this April's election.

Meador ran unsuccessfully in 2007 for a council seat.

Graveman said there were no immediate plans to appoint someone to fill the vacancy.

"We're in the same place we were several weeks ago," Graveman said.

Council members discussed adding the local election to the November national presidential election ballot, which would give the city ample time for a required protest period that comes with a charter ordinance.

However, City Attorney Carol Ruth Bonebrake said that was not an option.

"State statutes constitute municipal elections on April 1 and not Nov. 1," Bonebrake said. "And statutes distinguish between federal and municipal elections."

The council also discussed switching from four-year terms to two-year terms, as there has been much turnover in recent years on the council. Bonebrake researched who has served office since 2000 as part of her work on the 2002 ordinance error and found several vacancies and subsequent appointments.

After additional discussion, the council directed City Clerk Nicole Willits to do further research on how long council members have served, as well as costs of elections.

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