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Local Government

North Liberty residents file petition to trigger special election for mayor

City clerk expects it to take place in April

North Liberty City Clerk Tracey Mulcahey swears in Mayor Pro Tem Terry Donahue as the city’s next mayor on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2016. Donahue was appointed by the city council 3-2 and is expected to remain mayor until the city’s next regular or special election. (Madison Arnold/The Gazette)
North Liberty City Clerk Tracey Mulcahey swears in Mayor Pro Tem Terry Donahue as the city’s next mayor on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2016. Donahue was appointed by the city council 3-2 and is expected to remain mayor until the city’s next regular or special election. (Madison Arnold/The Gazette)

NORTH LIBERTY — Less than 12 hours after the North Liberty City Council appointed Terry Donahue to serve as the city’s mayor, residents of the Johnson County community filed a petition Wednesday to trigger a special election for the seat.

Donahue, a City Council member who had served as mayor pro tem, got the nod by a vote of 3-2 at Tuesday’s council meeting. Donahue voted for himself and was supported by council members Brian Wayson and Chris Hoffman.

Both Donahue and Hoffman had applied for the seat.

Council members Annie Pollock and Jim Sayre voted against appointing Donahue because they wanted to see a special election determine the next mayor. Following the appointment, residents had a 14-day window in which they could call for a special election.

North Liberty City Clerk Tracey Mulcahey said a petition calling for a special election was filed with her office around 8 a.m. today. Carrie Nierling with the Johnson County Auditor’s Office, said the petition included 32 valid signatures. Twenty-six signatures were needed to trigger the special election. North Liberty has a population of about 15,000 people, according to the most recent U.S. Census data.

It’s now up to the auditor’s office to schedule the special election. Mulcahey said she expects the election to take place in April. The cost of a special election is expected to be between $3,000 and $5,000, according to a December memo from City Attorney Scott Peterson.

Mulcahey said because Donahue’s council seat is now vacant, the council will have to decide whether to fill it by appointment or by special election. If the council chooses, it could place the seat on the same special election ballot as that for mayor.

After being sworn in Tuesday, Donahue said he plans to run for the mayor seat. Hoffman, who on Tuesday ultimately decided to make the motion to appoint Donahue mayor, said he “probably will” run for the seat as well.

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Those wishing to run must submit at least 25 signatures of eligible North Liberty electors to the auditor’s office to be placed on the ballot.

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

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