Staff Columnist

Iowa City chooses best of bad choices to fill vacancy

City Council sets special election for October

Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton speaks during a city council work session at the Iowa City City Hall on the prospect of becoming a sanctuary city on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton speaks during a city council work session at the Iowa City City Hall on the prospect of becoming a sanctuary city on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

The Iowa City City Council found itself between a general election and a hard place this week.

Former council member Kingsley Botchway resigned last month to take a new job with the Waterloo Community School District. The council’s options for filling the vacancy are restricted by state law — they could appoint someone to fill the seat, depriving citizens a voice; hold a special election a month before the regularly scheduled November election, creating a sprint of a campaign; or call a special election for January, leaving the seat open for several months.

Those were three bad choices, but fortunately council members settled on the least bad. At a special meeting on Friday morning, they voted unanimously to call for a special election on October 2. That gives prospective candidates just one week to gather signatures and file petitions to be on the ballot, with a possible primary planned for September. That was the best way to fill the seat quickly and also give voters proper representation.

“I view our role as working for the people of the city of Iowa City, not to tell them who their leaders should be. This is something that gives them the opportunity to choose their leader,” council member Rockne Cole said during Friday’s meeting.

l Comments: (319) 339-3156; adam.sullivan@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Want to join the conversation?

Consider subscribing to TheGazette.com and participate in discussing the important issues to our community with other Gazette subscribers.

Already a Gazette or TheGazette.com subscriber? Just login here with your account email and password.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.