Final Newport council member to be decided by appointmentThe deck has already been shuffled at Newport City Hall, but the hand dealt by voters on Nov. 4 wasn’t the last of the changes the city council will see.
By: Jon Avise, South Washington County Bulletin
The deck has already been shuffled at Newport City Hall, but the hand dealt by voters on Nov. 4 wasn’t the last of the changes the city council will see.
Tim Geraghty, a sitting council member, won a two-to-one victory on Election Day, unseating incumbent Kevin Chapdelaine. So when Geraghty — along with new council members Tom Ingemann and Bill Sumner — is again sworn in as mayor (he served in the role previously, from 1993-2001) on Jan. 8, one seat on the five-person council will sit empty.
And to the winners go the spoils — the trio swept into office two weeks ago will have the votes to hand pick Geraghty’s replacement.
The mayor-elect’s current term as council member will enter its third year in January, meaning the council, according to state statute, can appoint a resident to fill the spot. Had it been in the first half of Geraghty’s term the voters would have decided via a special election, said city administrator Larry Bodahl.
The process will begin at Thursday night’s city council meeting, when council members open the seat to letters of interest from Newport residents eager to serve out the remainder of Geraghty’s four-year term.
“It’s probably more than we would have them do than if they were just campaigning” for the seat, said Bodahl of the letters of interest required to be submitted by interested candidates. “When they file (to run for office) it’s just, ‘give me two bucks, sign your name and be a resident.’”
The tentative deadline for applicants is Dec. 29; then, on Jan. 8, the new-look council will review the candidates and decide who should fill Geraghty’s old council chamber chair.
Geraghty says he has “a number of individuals in mind for the seat, but I don’t want to say right now,” he said.
It will mark the third time this decade that a council appointment has altered the body’s makeup.
In 2001, Chapdelaine, then a sitting council member, was sworn in as mayor. Chapdelaine lobbied for Geraghty, who had declined to run for reelection as mayor the previous fall. Only one of the five applicants — Ingemann — had run for a council seat during the 2000 elections, and the council settled on Geraghty, who then won re-election in 2002 and 2006.
When longtime council member Judy Woods resigned toward the tail end of her four-year term in late-2003, the process began again. Outgoing council member Barb Wilcziek and Ingemann applied, with the council settling on Wilcziek to replace Woods at city hall. She was re-elected in 2004 before losing in her second bid two weeks ago.
Chapdelaine, Emily White and Wilcziek said they won’t enter their name for consideration.
“I wouldn’t get it anyway,” White said. “I think it’s all cut and dry who it’s going to be.”
Jon Avise can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.