With a Ward 3 seat still empty, the resumed their discussion last night about the board's role in filling vacant seats.
, the night that newly-elected mayor Nick Guccione was sworn in.
Ward 1 Alderman Forrest Gossett opened the discussion by citing Missouri Revised Statutes for 4th Class Cities, 79.280:
If a vacancy occurs in any elective office, the mayor or the person exercising the duties of the mayor shall cause a special meeting of the board of aldermen to convene where a successor to the vacant office shall be selected by appointment by the mayor with the advice and consent of a majority of the remaining members of the board of aldermen . . . The board of aldermen may adopt procedures to fill vacancies consistent with this section. The successor shall serve until the next regular municipal election.
Gosset asked that the board look at creating an ordinance that would outline a process for advertising and accepting applications from qualified residents. Gossett suggested that the open period for accepting applications be 10 business days.
"This involves the public in an open process. Nothing designed to undercut anything you do," Gosset told the mayor. Applicants would be made public, just like candidates for public office are made public, he said.
"I will stand my ground on this," Guccione said. "It is my appointment and my seat. You can open the process, but I'll still appoint the person I want to appoint."
Ward 2 Alderman Chris Gard said that he agreed with Gossett’s proposal, but that he wanted to clarify that the mayor could solicit candidates also.
City Attorney Paul Rost said Missouri law didn't "force anyone to do anything."
"The mayor makes the appointment. The board gives advice and consent and can set up a procedure," Rost said.
Ward 3 Alderman Rick Stokes said that he also supported a procedure and that he believed that it would not circumvent the mayor.
Guccione said that he already knew who he wanted to appoint, and that if the board failed to approve his choice, he would let the seat remain vacant until the next regular election.
Ward 1 Alderman Cheryl Kross said, "Do we support writing up a procedure to fill board vacancies? Let’s focus on the process."
Rost suggested that the process that was being suggested did nothing else but bring in names of applicants. "I would never allow the board to pass something that would violate your rights or state law," Rost added.
Gossett said, "This for me is about the heart of local government—having the people participate in the process. It’s fundamental. It’s not about any kind of fight I want to pick with you."
The board decided to have Rost write up an application process, based on Gossett's notes, to present at a future board meeting.
The board then recessed for an executive session without setting a special meeting to hear the mayor's nomination.