An election that is expected to take place in May to fill a vacant New Carlisle city council seat is still not officially on the ballot as city leaders decide whether to follow the Ohio Revised Code or the city’s charter.
The New Carlisle city council has operated for more than five months with the vacant seat. The seat became open when ex-member Aaron Leighty resigned after moving out of the city in July.
Clark County Board of Elections Director Jason Baker said he has spoken with New Carlisle City Manager Randy Bridge and explained what his office needs to move forward in May.
“I asked him to put in the resolution the filing deadline, how to be put into the ballot and I also asked them to put in there the election date,” Baker said.
Ohio Revised Code calls for people who want to run for office to file 90 days before an election, Baker said. However, the City of New Carlisle Charter says that people only need to file 60 days before the election.
The council also needs to decide if it will make potential candidates gather signatures. The May election will be for an unexpired term that will end at the end of 2021.
Baker said his office can follow New Carlisle’s direction, but the council needs to make these decisions.
New Carlisle Mayor Ethan Reynolds said he believed the city council expressed in a motion on Nov. 5 that it wanted to hold an election in May that was open to any resident who wanted to run. The council also plans on following the city charter, giving residents an extra 30 days to announce.
“We want to have this election,” Reynolds said. “We need to fill that seat.”
Bridge told the Springfield News-Sun this week that the city law director Lynnette Dinkler is drafting legislation needed to move forward with a May election.
The New Carlisle city council originally attempted to fill Leighty’s position themselves by taking applications. Three residents applied for the job — Amy Hopkins, Kathy Wright and Becky McKenzie.
The six remaining council members then tried 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.
But before he was able to do so, it was pointed out by a resident who attended the meeting that 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 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 on Aug. 30.