Council to take applications for open seat

Nov. 20—Applications for a temporary appointment to a vacated seat on the Joplin City Council will be taken starting Tuesday, council members decided at a meeting Monday night.

Mayor Doug Lawson said at a work session a week earlier that council member Kate Spencer had resigned her seat effective immediately.

"Kate contacted me today about resigning her seat and explained it is for the sake of her family, and her need to put her family and children first," Lawson said last week.

"I understand this and accept her resignation. On behalf of the council, I want to thank her for her service to our community, the city, and fellow council members. We wish her well."

The remaining two years of Spencer's seat will be filled in the April 2 election, but on Monday night, the mayor called on the panel to accept the resignation.

The mayor also said that the city charter requires the panel to fill the position temporarily.

"My proposal is that we, as of Tuesday morning, open it up to applications until the April election," Lawson said. He suggested that applications be taken until 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, and that the council then appoint an applicant at the first meeting in December.

Councilman Josh DeTar said he didn't know if it was possible, but he would like to see the position filled by someone who is not planning to run in the April election. The mayor said he did not think the council could require that.

Councilman Phil Stinnett said that because this would be a short term of service, from mid-December to April, it would be helpful to appoint someone who had previously been on the council because they would understand the requirements of the job. He said there are some ex-council members who serve now on city boards and commissions, but they could not serve on those bodies while on the council.

He thought the council should be able to appoint one of those and allow them to suspend their term on the board or commission while back on the council.

City Attorney Peter Edwards said once someone is on council, that person would have to resign from any board or commission post held. He said he believed that to be a rule in the charter.

The mayor asked if the rule could be changed. The city attorney said he didn't know if it was a good idea to change the rules or suspend the rules for one situation.

Councilman Gary Shaw said he sees the wisdom in what Stinnett proposed but thanked the city attorney for his advice.

"Let's abide by the rules," Shaw said. "I think we get in trouble when we go to changing rules for a situation."

Mayor Pro Tem Keenan Cortez made a motion to start taking applications Tuesday as the mayor had suggested. The council approved by a vote of seven in favor. The eighth council member, Mark Farnham, was absent.

The mayor praised Spencer's service and thanked her.

Applications can be submitted starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the city clerk's office on the second floor of City Hall, 602 S. Main St.

The process to fill four regular seats on the council in the April election started last Tuesday. Nominating petitions to become a candidate for that election are available in the city clerk's office at City Hall.

Information about the petitions, candidacy requirements and the election process is available there or by calling the clerk at 417-624-0820, ext. 1220.

Two general seats and two zone seats are to be filled for four-year terms. As a result of the newly opened seat, the two-year unexpired term for Spencer's seat also will on the ballot, and nominating petitions are now available.