At the May 27 commission meeting, the commission voted unanimously to change the city charter to avoid a special election in August. Rick Falkenstein currently holds the interim position; Jim Parent vacated the seat with no warning last month.
While the commission initially expected to hold an election in conjunction with the August gubernatorial and congressional elections, the change to the charter allows the city to wait until March.
If the city had a special election in August, the winner would then have to run again in March, which was when the regular term expired.
Holding an election in August would also overlap in the city clerk’s office. The city clerk is still receiving campaign reports from the March 2014 election and opening a qualifying period for an August election would make more work for that office, Mayor Lowe pointed out.
Commissioners also discussed the less-tangible benefits and pitfalls of not holding an extra election.
“Elections are so hard on the community,” Vice Mayor Pletcher said.
District Once Commissioner Terri Finnerty said she was unsure how people considering running for the seat in August would feel.
“We kind of led them along to think that [there would be an election],” Finnerty said. “It seems like we’re changing course in mid-stream.”
During discussions, no one asked Falkenstein if he was willing to stay in office through March, although after the meeting Falkenstein, who has already said he intends to run for the seat, told the Gabber he had no problem remaining the interim commissioner a bit longer.
The city saves over $3,000 by not holding a special election.