Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
As Council Member Danielle Pettit-Majewski prepares to resign from her position at the end of the month, city officials are mulling their options to fill the remainder of her term, which runs until 2023.
“After our last meeting in January, if Danielle resigns as she said she would, then we will have a second meeting that we will open up following a resignation,” Mayor Jaron Rosien said. “Council will at that moment determine if we are doing a special election or appointment.”
While all vacancies in recent memory have been filled by special election, Rosien said an appointment was now a more attractive option than in years past, citing the cost of a special election and the risk of delay to the budgetary process.
“This is the first time that I might recommend appointment because of the concerns presented,” he said. “Mainly because of that concern of that vacancy existing for six to eight weeks, and the concern of quorum with a couple absences that we know will take place.”
Rosien said city officials had privately expressed willingness to appoint one individual, but did not say who.
“I don’t have confirmation, but I have had some interest for appointment of a qualified individual that has served on city commissions and boards and has been a resident for a long time,” he said. “If that individual said yes, and council opted for an appointment, that would save the dollars for an election, it would save time on a vacancy because the appointment would happen immediately.”
Per state law, members of the public could require the city to hold a special election for the seat with a petition boasting a number of signatures equal to 15% of the last election’s turnout, a relatively low number given the uncontested races, none of which drew over 600 ballots.
While they would legally have 14 days after a Jan. 25 appointment to file a petition, taking any longer than two days would push the special election back to September, due to other parts of state code requiring at least 32 days’ public notice before a special election, but restricting the dates of said elections to two days out of the year for 2022: the first Tuesday in March or the second one in September.
“You have to give 32 days notice, it would be close, they might not be able to make it,” City Attorney Kevin Olson said. “They changed the law a couple years ago regarding when special elections could occur … you used to be able to just call one whenever.”