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Buchanan still questions replacing mayor

Published 10:57am Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Niles Daily Star

Though it would seem as though there’s no immediate cause for concern, Buchanan remains at a standstill, unsure of steps the city needs to take in filling the mayoral seat left vacant by the unexpected passing of former mayor Barbara Clark.

Since Clark’s passing Feb. 3, the city has been wrestling with a charter that does not specifically outline the process of replacement in the case of a mayoral vacancy caused by death. In all other cases, the charter is said to state an election would be held by the commission following the next general election.
“There could be a little ambiguity as to how the charter (outlines) what would become of the situation,” said Randy Herns, the city’s attorney.

Herns has already given his legal opinion on the matter to the commission but the issue was listed on the commission’s agenda Monday night.

City Manager Meg Mullendore said it was asked by commissioner Patricia Moore that the issue be added to the agenda.

Mullendore said no actions were taken at the meeting.

Moore apparently had more information for Herns to consider, though the attorney said by midday Tuesday he hadn’t yet received it.

“Right now we’re working with the attorney for the city that could help us into carrying on with the search for mayor,” Carla Cole, mayor pro tem, said Tuesday afternoon. “We’re kind of in limbo at the moment.

“We just need to make sure we’re not doing anything illegal,” she added.

To contrast, Niles’ mayor is elected by the people, whereas Buchanan’s commission decides who will fill that seat.

If the same situation were to happen in Niles, City Administrator Terry Eull said a replacement would be appointed by the council until the next election, during which a new mayor would be officially elected.

In Buchanan’s case, the question seems to be whether or not to wait until the next general election.
Meanwhile, the commission is also edging closer to its deadline for applications for an open seat on the commission.

Asked if the commission planned to wait until that seat was filled before voting for mayor, should the seat come up for vote sooner than the next election, Cole said, “We don’t have to, but I think at this point it will be asked that we wait. What we need is a majority vote.”

A decision on a new commissioner is expected March 8, and applications are due March 5.

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