November 22, 2014

Cities looking to fill vacancies on council, boards

Tim Barnum
A sign outside of the Omer City Hall announces a vacancy on the Omer City Council.
9/24/13

ARENAC COUNTY — The Omer City Council is one member short, and the Standish City Council could be soon, too.

According to Omer Mayor Alice Sproule, the Omer City Council had a vacant seat for a couple of months.

“We’ve had it about two months, because Jill Eyre left,” she said.

Sproule added that people have approached her about possibly serving on the council to fill the vacancy.

“We’ve had different people say that they’re interested in it, but we just haven’t had anybody come around,” she said.

City council in Omer includes six voting council members, and three of the seats, including the vacant one, are up for election in November. However, Arenac County Clerk Rick Rockwell said as of the Aug. 13 deadline to file for election in Omer, no one had filed to run for the vacant seat. He said council members Robin Berry and Ruth Ann Cook are up for re-election as well, and will appear on the ballot.

Rockwell said potential candidates can still file as write-ins until 4 p.m. on Oct. 25. Write-ins file for city council elections with their local clerks, he added.

Sproule, city Treasurer Sue Oliver and city Clerk Joan Steward are also up for re-election. In Omer, the treasurer and clerk do not vote, and Sproule said she only votes to break a tie.

In the city of Standish, no one filed for a Ward I seat that is up for election this November by the May deadline.

Though no one filed for an open Ward III seat, a write-in candidate has filed with the city.

“Vi Cook and Ed Reno are our current (Ward I) council people,” said City Manager Curt Hillman. “Ed’s term ends in November and he did not refile.”

Hillman said if no one files as a write-in for the Ward I seat, the city would have to appoint a council member after the election. He said this is a dilemma the council has been trying to avoid.

“They’ve been trying to brainstorm a little bit at least to find somebody to run so we don’t get in that vacancy situation,” he said.

City council terms in both cities are for four years, Rockwell said. He added that the clerk’s office has been working to get the cities on even-year election cycles, but at this time neither city has agreed to do so.

Hillman said he believes that if the cities were holding elections on even years, situations like the potential vacancy would be easier to avoid.

Standish also has vacancies on its board of review and planning commission, Hillman said. He said the planning commission has had a vacancy for about six to eight months, and the board of review has had a vacancy for approximately three months.

Hillman added that to be on the planning commission, the member does not have to be a resident of the city, and the board does not meet every month.

“The planning commission meets every other month, so there are only technically six meetings a year,” he said. “With the planning commission, right now, that resident does not have to be a city resident.”

The board of review member would have to be a city resident, Hillman said.

Both boards have four-year terms, but Hillman said the city would accept someone for a shorter period.

“Nobody carves it in stone,” he said. “If you want to be here a year, we’d take anybody at this point.”

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