The council has a somewhat unusual item to discuss this week, as one of our own is leaving and we need to figure out a plan to fill the resulting vacancy. Alderman Teege Mettille, who was recently re-elected to serve District 1, is leaving the city to take a new job in Ashland and will resign from the council following Wednesday's meeting.
While we all wish Teege the best of luck in his new endeavor, the fact that he was recently re-elected leaves a pretty significant share (22 months) of his term uncovered. The council has three options to replace him:
First, we have the power to simply appoint a replacement. We could announce a plan to appoint Teege's successor at our next meeting, allow all interested parties to speak and pick an interim alderman via secret ballot. This has been done before: Both Alderman Stueck and Alderperson Coenen got their seats this way. An appointed alderperson would hold their seat until the city elections in April, when the public would get to choose a permanent replacement.
This is a relatively quick and easy way to fill the seat, but it comes with three pitfalls:
- The seat would be filled by a secret ballot from 14 alderpersons, none of whom represent or were elected to serve District 1. Selecting an alderperson this way effectively ensures that we'll get the candidate we want, but that may not be the candidate the voters would choose.
- Coming and speaking to a group of alderpersons in an effort to win the seat is much, much easier than actually having to go out and campaign. It's possible this process would get us an alderperson who would not actually have been willing to put in the time it would take to win an election.
- Finally, even though we're only appointing an alderperson to fill 10 or so months, we're also likely choosing a favorite to win re-election next spring. The benefit of being an incumbent in low turnout elections is remarkably strong, so odds are an appointed alderman would remain in the seat for the long term.
If you don't like the option of appointing a replacement, the second option is to leave the seat vacant until April. This removes the burden of having to appoint someone from the council, but it also leaves the district unrepresented on the council for most of the year.
The third option, and the one I'm planning on supporting, is to hold a special election. This would carry a cost (around $6000) and turnout is likely to be low, but this is the best way to ensure the citizens of District 1 get an alderman that's willing to work to represent them and supports their interests.
State law requires we wait at least 62 but not more than 77 days to hold a special election. That means the earliest a decision could be made is Tuesday, August 20. However, an alderperson selected this way could fill the remainder of Alderman Mettille's term, which would still be 17 months.
Board of Public Works
The Board of Public Works will meet for the final time before Council on Wednesday and one of their action items is relevant to District 13: There's a plan in place to add to this summer's street paving projects, pouring concrete and adding curb and gutter to the following roads:
- Ashbury Drive between French Road and Providence Avenue
- Glory Lane between French Road and Providence Avenue
- Intertech Drive from Enterprise Avenue to its conclusion
The city estimates that these three projects will cost a combined $490,000, with $344,116.59 expected to be collected in special assessments. If these projects are approved, virtually all of the streets in the neighborhood (the only exception I can think of is Canvasback Circle) will have their improvements completed.
Keeping you informed on issues that may impact you around the city is one of my primary goals as an alderman. Making the council's activity as accessible as possible to as many people as are interested is part of my goal to make it easier for more people to get involved with issues that matter to them.