Resignation sparks council debate on appointments
Nate Smith slated to replace Jeremy Miner who is leaving Valdez
A recently announced resignation from the Valdez City Council is spurring debate on the council's policy on appointing vacancies.
Jeremy Miner, who was elected to a two-year seat on the Valdez City Council in 2012, offered the council a letter of resignation Monday night, citing personal reasons. The council voted to accept Miner's resignation, but debate regarding how the council will fill the seat which has less than six months before it expires in the October 6 municipal elections.
The council's policy on appointing council vacancies is vague, and past precedents have been inconsistent. Past council's have sometimes filled vacancies by appointing a candidate from past elections that received the next highest number of votes but fell shy of winning the popular vote. Other times the council has advertised that it is looking for candidates to fill vacancies and then voted to fill the seat from the pool self-nominating candidates.
"The precedent has gone both ways," said council member Mike Wells, who first joined the council to fill a vacancy that came up when former council member Connie Stephens resigned for health reasons. Wells has since been reelected to the council.
Mayor Dave Cobb urged the council to appoint Nate Smith, a two-time council hopeful, to fill out Miner's remaining term.
Smith has run for a council seat in the last two municipal elections, but fell short of a majority vote. He placed fourth in the race to fill one of three council seats in the 2013 election.
The council consented to bring Smith's nomination for council appointment at its next regular meeting, June 2, where it is presumed he will be appointed.
While most council members agreed that the vacancy had to be filled – the city code specifies vacancies must be filled within 30 days – some members were not comfortable with the council policy's ambiguity when it comes to filling vacancies.
"I would like to see it clear," council member Donna Schantz said, "...it goes to the next vote getter in line."
Cobb directed the city clerk's office to bring a policy change to the council in a near-future council meeting. Council member Dennis Fleming noted complications that could arise with automatically handing vacant seats to also-rans.
Alan Crume, who ran in the 2012 election against Miner, would have been in line to fill the seat if the council had opted to select the highest vote-getting candidate from that election. Crume addressed the council Monday night and said that he was unable to run for council in the 2013 elections, but was interested in the appointment to fill out Miner's term.