Ward 4 election to proceed
Clay County supervisor vacancy to be addressed
The Spencer City Council approved a resolution Tuesday evening, acknowledging a petition, which called for a special election to fill the vacant Ward 4 councilman seat. The position was vacated when former Councilman Randy Swanson transitioned to the office of Clay County supervisor. The City Council had previously voted to fill the vacancy by appointment. However, the previous resolution allowed the public to call for an election by providing a petition containing the signatures of no less than 10 percent of the electors who participated in the last Ward 4 election, which roughly translated to between 11 and 14 signatures.
"On (Dec. 27), the city received a petition with approximately 70 signatures on it. That number was larger than the total amount of voters that participated in that last city election," Spencer City Manager Bob Fagen wrote in his notes to the council.
The council did not hesitate to approve the motion.
"I'm glad to see that they had so many signatures as they did to call for the election. That showed that there was interest out there. The people stated their will and I think that's great," Councilman at Large George Moriarty said.
Ward 3 Councilman Steve Bomgaars agreed.
"I think this is definitely the way to go," Bomgaars said. "I know that there were several people who expressed interest in running for the council in that ward and I would think that we'll be able to get some good candidates for Ward 4."
Ward 2 Councilman Bill Orrison encouraged any women in Ward 4, who are interested in running, to campaign for the open seat. Orrison noted that several women had served on the council during some of his previous terms. Currently, the council consists of only male councilmen.
"I would strongly encourage them to think about getting the 25 signatures and putting their name on the ballot," Orrison said.
In the special election, which is scheduled for March 7, eligible voters and candidates will be limited to residents of Ward 4. Candidacy papers are available at Spencer City Hall for those interested in submitting their name for the council seat. City Clerk Theresa Reardon confirmed that potential candidates must collect 25 signatures of support, as part of the application. The papers must be returned to City Hall no later than 5 p.m. on Feb. 10.
"I just hope that we have at least two people file. That's all I ask," Spencer Mayor Reynold Peterson said with a smile.
The cost of conducting the election has been estimated to be between $2,000 and $3,000. Currently, the polling location of the election has yet to be determined.
Tuesday morning, the Clay County Board of Supervisors took action, authorizing Clay County Auditor Marjorie Pitts to name Reardon as the filing officer for the special election.
Pitts explained that within the last two years, state legislation had been passed, which transferred the responsibilities of the special election filing officer from the city clerk to the county auditor.
"But they did leave an allowance in the legislation that, if county auditors saw fit to do so, they could designate the city clerk as the receiving officer of the candidate papers. For me personally, it has always made sense to have the city clerk do that. With the interaction between the city, the council and the candidates, coming to the city clerk to do that business is certainly where I think it belongs," Pitts said.
While the city will take on the role of receiving the candidate papers, the county will still largely bear the responsibility of tallying the votes.
"They (the city) have to turn their filing over to our office so that we can process the rest of the election, reading of the ballots and things like that," Pitts said.
While plans to fill the Ward 4 vacancy are being finalized, the county has just begun the process to fill the vacancy left by the recent passing of Clay County Supervisor Linda Swanson. Pitts said that, because a county supervisor is an elected official at large, any potential special election to fill the vacancy would not be added to the Ward 4 special election ballot.
Pitts explained that, in accordance with the Iowa code, she, Clay County Treasurer Sandra Geidl and Clay County Recorder Shirley Goyette were tasked with deciding whether the county could hold a special election or fill the vacancy by appointment.
Pitts indicated that, because the office is a county-wide position, the group voted to hold a special election.
"It should be open to the county," Pitts said.
Pitts went on to say that staff will be contacting the political parties in the county in order to inform them of their right to hold a convention. She indicated that the county will be publishing further information, such as filing deadlines and requirements for submitting candidate applications, in the near future.
Pitts said the county intends to hold the election on March 7, the same day as the city's special election for Ward 4.