Government

Terry Donahue appointed North Liberty mayor

Residents still have opportunity to force special election

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)
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NORTH LIBERTY — Mayor Pro Tem Terry Donahue was appointed and sworn in as North Liberty’s mayor Tuesday, after a 3-2 vote and multiple failed motions.

Council members Brian Wayson and Chris Hoffman joined Donahue, who voted for himself, in voting for the appointment of Donahue. The council discussed the issue for roughly 30 minutes with council members Annie Pollock and Jim Sayre refusing to second Wayson’s multiple motions to appoint either Donahue or Hoffman — the two candidates who applied for the job — with the hopes of triggering a special election.

A motion by Sayre to hold a special election also failed 3-2. Both Pollock and Sayre voted in January against appointing the next mayor.

“You obviously know how I voted last meeting. I just feel that it should be an election of all citizens of North Liberty who choose to vote rather than an appointment,” Pollock said.

Eventually, Hoffman made the final motion to appoint Donahue with Wayson choosing to second it.

“I would probably just go Terry just because he’s been doing it for two months. He’s got a little bit of experience and we just keep moving forward. And then November’s not very far along and we can really have a good old real election,” Wayson said.

Because he is appointed rather than elected, Donahue is expected to only serve as mayor until votes from the next regular or special city election are canvassed. Currently, the next regular election is scheduled for November.

Residents still have 14 days to submit a petition with 26 valid signatures to force a special election for mayor.

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If the 14-day period passes, Donahue’s appointment means the city council would have to vote on whether to fill Donahue’s vacant seat by appointment or special election. If a special election is triggered for the seat, either by council vote or residents’ petition, a race for mayor also would be on the ballot.

Donahue told The Gazette that if a special election is triggered, he expects to run for mayor and he knew the risks when he applied to be appointed.

“I know what the ramifications are going to be. I was willing to take the risk. Chris was willing to take the risk. And what happens, happens. We can’t dictate the actions of other people. They’ll do that themselves. If they choose to file, they file,” Donahue said during the meeting.

Donahue said he felt an appointment was necessary because he wanted to keep projects like road improvements and the opening of the new Liberty High School moving along in the coming months.

Donahue has been fulfilling mayoral duties since former mayor Amy Nielsen resigned after being elected to serve in the Iowa House of Representatives.

During a short applicant presentation to council, Donahue touted his experience in local government. He served nine years as a North Liberty City Council member as well as 18 years as a Creston council member and mayor, according to his application.

The council had until March 1 to make a decision on the mayor’s seat. If they had not done so, the Johnson County Auditor would have been required to call for a special election.

The North Liberty mayor earns a salary of $5,000 and council members earn a payment of $50 per meeting.

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

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