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.
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