"If you want to serve, you've got raise your hand and serve." That's what Mayor Doug French said about filling an upcoming vacancy on the Rye City Council.
Tonight's city council meeting should be more interesting than usual. Rye residents interested in filling the remaining six months on departing Councilmember Suzanna Keith's term have been invited to address the council and public tonight. As of yesterday, no one has formally requested time to make public remarks according to the city clerk's office.
French said that interested applicants should formally submit their resumes and speak to each member of the council about their interest as well as their political party. Despite that, no letters or supporting documentation have been included in tonight's meeting packet.
But that doesn't mean no one is interested.
"Many people have expressed an interest, but have decided not to announce their intentions one way or the other," said Mayor French. "I have asked that anyone who wants consideration to officially come before the Council and public on Wednesday night."
At the last regular council meeting, Mayor French said that after hearing from interested residents, a decision would be made to fill the vacancy by June 13. .
At the last regular council meeting, after emphatically saying he was not interested in the vacancy, former Rye City School Board member Bob Zahm posed a meta-question that may resurface this evening. Asked Zahm, "One of the questions I would ask you is do you, in fact, need to fill the seat before the election?"
Zahm asked the Council to share what criteria would be used to select a replacement and to consider the possibility an appointment would have political repercussions- giving the designee a possible advantage if they decide to seek election to a future term and changing the current political balance amongst the sitting councilmembers. Zahm suggested the Council consider possibly leaving the seat vacant or disallowing the replacement from seeking election to a full term.
Corporation Counsel Kristen Wilson confirmed that the council was not obligated to fill the seat after Zahm pointed out the Rye City School Board had left vacancies under similar situations unfilled.
Here's the relevant portion of the Rye City Code regarding elected office vacancies:
A. If a vacancy shall occur in the office of Mayor or Councilman, the Council shall, by a vote of a majority of the members of the Council remaining in office, appoint a person to fill such vacancy. The person appointed to fill such vacancy shall hold office by virtue of such appointment until the first day of January following the first general election after the happening of the vacancy. A vacancy occurring before September 20 of any year in any elective office of the city shall be filled at the general election held next thereafter, unless otherwise provided by law, or unless previously filled at a special election.
[Amended 3-18-1981 by L.L. No. 1-1981]
B. If a vacancy shall occur otherwise than by expiration of the term in an appointive office having a term, it shall be filled by appointment for the unexpired term.