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Council opts to replace vacant seat with appointee

Council opts to replace vacant seat with appointee

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RACINE — The 10th District’s vacant seat on the Racine City Council will be filled by appointment rather than by special election.

The council made that determination after discussing their options at the council meeting on Thursday.

Carrie Glenn

Glenn

The seat is vacant due to the unexpected death of Carrie Glenn at the age of 55 on Oct. 28.

Alderman John Tate II, the City Council president, proposed the process for selecting an appointee to fill the vacant seat, which was ultimately adopted.

The council intends to invite interested residents of the 10th District to submit letters of interest along with a resume by Nov. 27.

Interviews of the candidates will occur on Dec. 1 with the Committee of the Whole. If there are more than four applicants, the committee may interview candidates over two meetings.

After the candidates have been interviewed, the committee will make a recommendation to the City Council, which will take action to appoint an alderman.

The appointee will serve until the end of the term in April 2022.

Options

The City Council opted to take action immediately, rather than wait for an election, after discussion of their options.

The council had four options:

  • Leave the seat vacant until the term expires in April 2022.
  • Call a special election for April 2021.
  • Make an appointment immediately.
  • Select a temporary appointee and call a special election.

Tate said he proposed making an immediate appointment for the remainder of the term because the people of the 10th District deserve representation.

Even waiting for a special election would mean the people of the 10th District would go without representation for months.

“I believe that it is not appropriate for us to leave that seat vacant,” he said.

Debate

No one argued to leave the seat open until the term expired in April 2022.

As for the possibility of a special election in April 2021, members of the council expressed several concerns.

The first issue was the number of times a person would have to run for office in a single year.

Tate noted that elections can be grueling, even for seasoned candidates. To expect someone to run for office twice in a year — in a special election and then again when the term expired — would be a bit much, he said.

The second consideration was the COVID-19 pandemic and the implications of campaigning.

Tate noted in his presentation that appointing an alderman until the term expired in 2022 was within the precedence set by past vacancies.

Alderman Henry Perez questioned whether that was true, noting a past vacancy that was left unfilled until the election — allowing the people of that district to choose their new representation by vote.

Alderman Jason Meekma, a former City Council president who led the replacement process in two previous vacancies, responded by noting that was true in the case where the vacancy occurred very close to an election where the term of the alderman was expiring anyway.

In the case of the 10th District seat, he noted, the term does not expire until April 2022.

There were no objections to Tate’s proposal and the City Council is moving forward to an immediate appointment.

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