North Liberty City Council sets date for mayoral election, discusses new police station

Residents to vote for Mayor April 25, plan for special meeting to discuss council vacancy

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NORTH LIBERTY — A special election for mayor of North Liberty is scheduled for April 25.

The North Liberty City Council voted 3-0 Tuesday to approve the special election date. The election was triggered when residents filed a petition for the election after Mayor Pro Tem Terry Donahue was appointed mayor last month.

The vacancy was created when Mayor Amy Nielsen resigned to take a seat in the Iowa House.

Council members Brian Wayson, Annie Pollock and Jim Sayre debated Tuesday whether to place Donahue’s now-vacant council seat on the same ballot as mayor next month. Instead, members decided to schedule a special meeting so all four council members can be present to decide whether to appoint or schedule a special election for the fifth seat.

Council member Chris Hoffman was absent from Tuesday’s the discussion.

“I think regardless whatever seat was open, I’m advocating for a special election,” Pollock said, adding that she was “mindful” Hoffman wasn’t present to discuss the issue. “I’m just trying to be respectful of his voice as well in the matter.”

If the council wants the council seat on the same April 25 ballot as the mayor, it must vote for that in the next 10 days.

City Attorney Scott Peterson said the city is in “some uncharted legal waters” because of how complicated the mayor and council vacancy situations are.

If a council election is scheduled or triggered by a petition on a later date, the city would have to pay for a second election. A single special election is expected to cost the city between $3,000 and $5,000, according to a memo from Peterson.

POLICE STATION

Also on the City Council’s agenda Tuesday was discussion of a proposed timeline for a new police station.

The timeline is for a facility on city-owned property at the intersection of Cherry and Main streets, with the opening set for May 2019. While they had no formal vote, council members said they were in consensus for using the timeline as a guide to begin a conversation about the project.

Pollock requested a council work session to discuss the project further in the near future. The timeline included no cost estimates or designs but outlined the first step, which would be to begin public outreach and awareness.

North Liberty Police Chief Diane Venenga told The Gazette earlier this week that her department has outgrown its current station, at 5 E. Cherry St., even holding meetings in the hallway and storing evidence in the furnace room.

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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