TOLEDO — On Nov. 6, the Toledo City Council had four members and four applicants to fill the unexpired term of Deann Dunlap. By the beginning of the council’s regular meeting on Nov. 7, the council had three members, an application was withdrawn and two applicants had been elected to begin their own terms starting Jan. 1.
At the end of the meeting, the council had five members and the application period for the remaining two-year term had been extended.
The first matter of the night at Wednesday’s city council meeting was the announcement of councilor Michele Johnson’s resignation, which City Manager Craig Martin announced to the council and provided them with copies of her resignation letter.
Though the room was packed with Toledoites attending the meeting, there was only one public comment: a citizen asked if the council could make decisions with only three councilors, as she was didn’t believe that was a quorum. Councilor Josh Smith directed the question to City Manager Craig Martin, who clarified that a quorum is defined as a majority of incumbent members of the council, and he interpreted that to mean sitting councilors. As two of the three councilors sitting were incumbent, the council had met its quorum.
After addressing two decision items, the council came to the item which the city manager acknowledged that the council had been waiting for: discussion to fill the vacant seats on the council. With Johnson’s resignation, the councilors now had three seats to appoint.
The normal procedure to appoint councilors can take months, however, the sitting council moved to temporarily suspend council rules in an effort to expedite the process while reflecting the wishes of the voters.
“Our poor council has shrunk from seven members to three,” said Councilor Bill Dalbey. “This is an extraordinary circumstance. There was an election and the voters elected new councilors to fill these positions. I believe we should suspend our council rules temporarily and seat those persons elected to the city council tonight. I don’t see any reason we shouldn’t do that.”
The city manager made clear that if Betty Kamikawa and Heather Jukich — the winners of Tuesday’s election based on preliminary results — would only be serving until the end of the terms they were appointed to: Dec. 31, 2018. On Jan. 1, to begin their elected terms, they will have to be sworn in again.
The council agreed, suspended their rules and appointed the new councilors, who were sworn in by the city attorney.
The council does not have the authority to appoint a mayor and they will continue without one until Rod Cross is sworn in on Jan. 1.
As for Dunlap’s two-year unexpired term, the council did have the option to continue with their suspended rules and appoint their lone remaining applicant to the seat. However, Terri Strom withdrew her application for the position that morning, and Dalbey said that he was uncomfortable considering only one candidate, so the council elected to continue the application period.
Applications to fill the vacant council seat will remain open until Nov. 13 at 6 p.m., when the council’s work session will be called to order. At that meeting the council will decide how they are moving forward with that process. For more information about how to apply for the position, visit www.cityoftoledo.org/city-council or contact the city recorder by phone at 541-336-2247 or by email at [email protected]