116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — The Iowa City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to fill its vacancy by appointment instead of holding a special election.
The appointee will succeed council member Janice Weiner, who submitted her resignation on Nov. 9 after she was elected to represent Iowa Senate District 45.
There is about one year left on Weiner’s four-year city council term. Weiner’s resignation becomes effective Jan. 1 and the at-large term runs through Jan. 2, 2024.
The council decided on Tuesday to have applications due Jan. 3 with the selection made at the Jan. 10 council meeting. The application will be made available as soon as it is finalized.
Council members said appointing a new member will be quicker and allow the new member to be part of the budget discussion at the start of next year. There was also discussion about low turnout in city special elections in Johnson County, as well as the short time frame for candidates to campaign.
Council member Pauline Taylor brought up the cost of holding a special election. An election would cost at least $50,000. If a primary is needed that would be another $50,000 for a total of $100,000.
Voters could petition for a special election.
The Coralville City Council earlier this year filled a vacancy by appointment, as did the Iowa City Community School District school board. The North Liberty City Council, however, had a special election earlier this year to fill a vacancy with 1.9 percent of registered voters participating.
The application for the appointment will be based on the city’s boards and commissions application. The application will be available online and there will be paper copies at City Hall.
“From an equity standpoint, I think a low barrier application that is open to everyone with us having the opportunity to speak with individuals who would be interested is actually a better process for making it open to those who might be wanting and capable of serving, than having a very, very low turnout, short time frame special election,” Council member Laura Bergus said.
Residents have two opportunities to file a petition for a special election. A petition must be filed within 14 days after the council decides on appointment and within 14 days after the appointment is made.
A petition requesting a special election must have signatures from at least 743 eligible Iowa City voters.
“It's not like we're cutting out the possibility of (a special election),” said Mayor Pro Tem Megan Alter said. “If people feel very strongly otherwise, the people can speak, and I think that that's the great thing about the way that this has been written.”
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