COLLEGE PLACE — City Council members discussed, but took no action Monday, on how to fill the vacancy left by the death of Mayor Rick Newby earlier this month.
Council members agreed to revisit the issue at their April 14 meeting when all could be present.
Council member Julie Scott was absent Monday.
Following Newby’s death on March 9, City Attorney Charles Phillips had prepared a memo for Monday’s meeting outlining the options for appointing a replacement.
The memo also discussed the possibility of reorganizing the city government from its present mayor-council plan to a council-manager system, but that proposal drew little comment from Council members.
City Administrator Pat Reay said the replacement process “is really defined by the Council” and that it has 90 days from when the vacancy occurred to complete the process. “So we have until the first of June,” he said.
In response to a question from Council member William Jenkins, Reay and City Attorney Charlie Phillips said whoever is appointed mayor will serve out the remainder of Newby’s four-year term, which began this year when voters re-elected him to a second term.
In his memo, Phillips said state law requires the Council to “appoint a qualified person to fill the vacant position.”
Reay said in the past when vacancies occurred, the Council advertised for applicants, conducted interviews and then voted to make an appointment.
Although Council member Marge Nyhagen made a motion to have city staff begin that process, it died for lack of a second.
The discussion then touched on whether it would be better to seek candidates at large or choose from among the current Council members, but no consensus was reached.
Toward the end of the discussion, Nyhagen said she wanted to move ahead and Jenkins agreed, but he said he wanted to take time to allow everyone to agree on what to do next.
“It would give absent Council members a chance to weigh in on what seems the best course of action here,” he said. “It’s not something I’m comfortable rushing into.”