Mayor, council openings on North Liberty special election ballot

NORTH LIBERTY — Residents of North Liberty will now vote for two city officials April 25.

The city council held a short special telephonic meeting Thursday to discuss how to fill a vacant council seat before deciding, in a 3-1 vote, to put the opening on the special election ballot.

The council was left with a vacancy after council member Terry Donahue was appointed North Liberty’s mayor last month.

To serve as mayor, Donahue had to forfeit his council seat, with a term that lasts through 2019.

The morning after Donahue was sworn in as mayor, North Liberty residents filed a petition March 1 to force a special election for mayor. Donahue, who was aware a special election might be called, earlier told The Gazette he would run for the job.

The mayoral term expires at the end of this year, with municipal elections scheduled in November.

The shuffle in council positions began with Mayor Amy Nielsen resigned in December after being elected to the Iowa House of Representatives.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, members set the date for the mayoral election and were to decide whether to appoint a council member to the coucnil seat formerly held by Donahue.

Because council member Chris Hoffman, who called in to Tuesday’s meeting, was no longer on the phone when the council vacancy was brought up, the three council members at the meeting opted to hold the telephonic meeting Thursday to decide the issue.

“I don’t think there’s really any better way to do this then just to put it on the ballot on April 25,” Hoffman said on Thursday. “If we make an appointment, someone could petition after the fact, and I don’t want to hold two (special) elections.”

The special election is expected to cost the city between $3,000 and $5,000, according to City Attorney Scott Peterson.

Council member Annie Pollock was the lone dissenting vote Thursday, saying she’d prefer to have a second special election at a later date.

Her reasoning: If the city appointed or held a special election for the council opening at a later date — and Donahue did not win the mayoral election on April 25 — he could then be appointed or elected to his previous city council seat.

“I don’t want to lose Terry from the elected officials,” Pollock said.

But Hoffman, along with council members Jim Sayre and Brian Wayson, voted in favor of placing the open council seat on the April 25 ballot.

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