New Carlisle still trying to figure out how to fill council seat

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

New Carlisle Council still trying to fill empty seat

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

It could be months before the New Carlise City Council has seven members as lawyers for the city and county board of elections’ office are still hashing out how to go about filling a vacant seat.

In letters obtained by the Springfield News-Sun, New Carlisle Law Director Lynnette Dinkler and Clark County Prosecutor’s Office Civil Attorney Beau Thompson, who is representing the Clark County Board of Elections, discuss and debate what options New Carlisle has to fill a council seat that has been vacant since July.

MORE: New Carlisle may hold special election for council vacancy

The letters appear to indicate the two agree the council can decide to put an election on the ballot for May, August or November of next year.

Thompson also said in the letter that according to his interpretation of the city’s charter, New Carlisle could hold a special election at any time.

“If the board of elections receives a proper resolution from New Carlisle Council, requesting an election to be held “any time” the board of elections will work with the city to ensure that is completed. Of course, there are some logistical requirements including the printing of ballots that would make it physically impossible to hold an election at ‘any time’. Some advanced notice would obviously be required. None of the dates proposed in your letter (May 7, 2019, August 6, 2019 or November 5, 2019) would be an issue at his point in time.”

Thompson also calls waiting until next November to fill the seat the safest option.

“That would line it up with a general election in an odd-numbered year, avoid unnecessary expense to the city and would appear to me to be the safest play to avoid legal challenges to the results of the election,” Thompson said in his letter.

However, Thompson makes it clear in his letters that he cannot decide what the city should do and it is up to Dinkler and the council to make a decision.

The council has been in the process of trying to replace Aaron Leighty, who resigned in July after moving out of the city. Three residents applied for the job — Amy Hopkins, Kathy Wright and Becky McKenzie.

The six remaining council members attempted to select a new member on Aug. 23, but ended up deadlocked between Hopkins and McKenzie. Reynolds then had an opportunity to call a special meeting Aug. 29 and planned to appoint his choice — Hopkins, he said.

MORE: New Carlisle council seat remains vacant after tie vote

But before he was able to do so, it was pointed out by a resident who attended the meeting the legal ad that was distributed to a newspaper wasn’t clear what the meeting was for.

Because it was unclear if the meeting was legal, Reynolds decided not to appoint Hopkins. He then attempted to hold an emergency meeting Aug. 30 in an another attempt to appoint Hopkins.

New Carlisle Council members Ronald Cobb, Bill Cook and Mike Lowery couldn’t attend the Aug. 30 meeting — each saying they had prior engagements.

Because the members didn’t attend, the council didn’t have a quorum and Reynolds couldn’t make an appointment. The last day the mayor could appoint someone to the council before his time designated by the city charter ran out was Aug. 30.

Lowery said in a Facebook post at the time he couldn’t make it because he had to work early the next morning and also that he didn’t’ feel appointing a council member was an emergency since there was plenty of time to do so before the deadline for the mayor to make a selection.

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