uskegon County officials, the Montague City Council has decided to reverse its motion to leave Mark Freeland’s seat open, and appoint someone at their next meeting.
When Freeland resigned in September 2012, the city council asked for applications for the vacant seat, and received six applications.
After roughly two months of deliberating over the six candidates, the board decided to keep the seat vacant until the next election in November 2013. The board made a motion at their board meeting on Nov. 19, 2012 to keep the seat open.
According to Montague City Manager John French, there was no time limit to choose a person to fill the seat. The only spot they would have to fill would be the mayor’s seat, which would have to be filled within 30 days.
In December 2012, Muskegon County Clerk Nancy Waters contacted the county’s legal council, Ted Williams, to ask if the City of Montague could legally leave the seat vacant. The county found that because the city council made an official motion to leave the seat open, the city violated the city’s charter. Technically, the city council could have just not chosen someone, but by making the motion, the charter was violated.
The city council then decided to seek its own legal council for another opinion, and based on that opinion by City Attorney John Schrier, the city decided they will now appoint someone to the open seat.
Councilman Calvin (Hap) Cederquist made a motion to reverse the motion to not appoint someone, and to revisit the appointment. The motion passed 5-0 (council member Lisa Kiel was absent from the meeting).
Mayor Kevin Erb previously stated that the council had a hard time choosing a candidate because each were highly qualified. He also stated that the person would only serve for less than one year, so the council thought it would be best to just leave the seat open and wait until the next election.
Councilman Jeff Auch suggested that the council members rank their top three candidates for the seat. Each candidate who receives a first place vote will receive three points, candidates who receive a second place vote receive two points and candidates who receive a third place vote will receive one point. The candidate with the highest amount of points will be chosen to fill the seat.
While Cederquist suggested that the council not rush into a decision, Erb said that the council has had quite a while to think about the candidates, and that they shouldn’t wait too long.
Audience member Roger Scharmer urged the council to appoint someone and proceed quickly.
“We need more people on the board,” Scharmer said.
The council members will return their sheets with their top three candidates into City Clerk Laurie Robillard at the next meeting, which will be on Monday, Feb. 4.