The Henderson City Council voted
3-1 Tuesday to appoint a replacement for Kathleen Vermillion, who is leaving her Ward 3 seat midterm effective Jan. 3.
Councilman Sam Bateman voted against the measure. Vermillion abstained.
The city will spend $340 on the appointment process, saving taxpayers at least $122,000 by avoiding a special election.
Those interested must apply between Jan. 3 and Jan. 10.
Mayor Andy Hafen said this is the fourth vacancy on the City Council since he was elected in 1987. Each of those seats was filled by appointment.
He said the cost of an election was a concern. “My gut tells me in these hard economic times the good thing to do is to be fiscally responsible”
Bateman said his initial reaction was to hold a special election. “We’re enfranchising voters with their money.”
Past appointments, he said, put council members in a “little bit of an uncomfortable position.” That could be avoided through an election, he said.
Bateman said there will be tough budget decisions made in the next year, and whoever replaces Vermillion should be accountable to voters.
Finance Director Richard Derrick said money to pay for a special election could be taken out of available funds,despite a projected $13 million deficit in fiscal year 2012 .
Vermillion said she favored an appointment solely out of cost concerns. She said voters could make their choice in 2013 when the term ends.
Councilwoman Debra March said she talked to Henderson residents and didn’t get the sense an election was necessary.
“In a perfect world it would be nice for voters to make that decision,” she said. “But the cost far outweighs that.”
“We’re going to get criticized no matter what we do,” Councilwoman Gerri Schroder said. “But that’s why we’re here, to make decisions.”
She also said people don’t want the city spending more money than it has to, especially with so many struggling.
“I just can’t see spending the extra money when we don’t even have it budgeted to spend,” Schroder said.
Hafen said taht he favored an appointment process and that the city would be as transparent as it could be. He said three of four council members would have to agree on Vermillion’s replacement.
The soonest a meeting could be held to make a decision is Jan. 19. The appointee would take office Feb. 3.
Contact Doug McMurdo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5512.