NORTH LIBERTY — North Liberty will hold a special election, likely on March 12, to fill Jim Sayre’s city council seat after his resignation.
Sayre said he plans to resign Friday because he’s moving to accept a job with the University of Arizona. His council term lasts through the end of the year.
The North Liberty City Council voted 3-2, with members Chris Hoffman and Sayre in the negative, to hold a special election to fill the seat.
The three council members voting for the special election were Sarah Madsen, Jennifer Goings and Annie Pollock. The mayor does not vote.
The council also had the option of appointing a council member to serve until the November municipal election.
Mayor Terry Donahue said he received an email stating that a resident intended to file a 75-signature petition forcing a special election if the council chose to appoint.
“Given that it sounds like it’s inevitable that somebody’s going to want it, their opinion should be respected,” council member Madsen said, adding that March 12 would be an ideal date because it’s before families leave for spring break.
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Whoever is elected would be seated after the special election’s votes are canvassed and would serve through the end of the year. The person also could run for election in the November municipal election.
To get on the special election ballot, candidates have to file nomination papers with at least 25 signatures.
The Johnson County Auditor’s Office will set the date for the special election and the deadline to file nominating petitions.
Tuesday’s meeting was the second time the council has discussed how to fill the vacant seat.
During a snowstorm last week, the council remained undecided, with Hoffman supporting an appointment and Goings supporting a special election.
Sayre was in attendance, but the decision was delayed until this week’s special meeting, which had the full council in attendance.
A special election will likely cost the city between $2,000 and $3,000.
“When I look to make an appointment, especially for a temporary basis, I’m looking for something on a merit base. I need you to already know what’s going on,” Hoffman said. “An election, like it or not, kind of becomes a popularity contest. … That person is going to take some to get up to speed.”
During the last vacancy, residents triggered a special election with a petition in April 2017 after then-Mayor Amy Nielsen resigned after being elected to the state House of Representatives. Madsen was elected to the council, and Donahue was elected mayor.
Whoever is elected or appointed in the special election will join Hoffman, Goings, Madsen and Pollock on the council. Members earn a salary of $50 per council meeting attended.
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