Election will fill Brunner vacancy

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011
— Janesville residents will elect an extra city council member in April.

Three two-year seats normally would be on the ballot in 2012, but a one-year position will be added to replace George Brunner, who resigned Nov. 9 after his Nov. 4 arrest on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting an officer.

Brunner resigned in the middle of his two-year term on the council.

The one-year term will be filled by the candidate with the fourth-highest vote total April 3, the city council decided Monday.

Undecided is whether the council will appoint somebody to fill Brunner’s seat until April.

Two council members cited recent close votes in arguing in favor of the council appointing a seventh member to fill the seat for the next five months, which would include about eight council meetings.

The discussion will continue at the council’s Nov. 28 meeting, when all of the six remaining council members are expected to attend. Russ Steeber was absent Monday.

If council members decide to fill the position, they should either solicit applications or appoint the fifth-highest vote-getter from the 2011 election, City Manager Eric Levitt said.

Mike Knilans was the fifth-highest vote getter in 2011, when voters filled four council seats.

Councilmen Tom McDonald and Sam Liebert said the council should appoint someone, possibly someone with experience in local government.

“If we can devise a way to relatively quickly appoint somebody … I think that would possibly be important, especially seeing how some votes have gone in the past year,” McDonald said.

It would be a disservice to residents, he said, if the council has votes end in 3-3 ties.

“I think we should move quickly and fill it.” McDonald said.

Liebert said the person appointed should be someone with experience in elected office, perhaps a former city council or school board member—“Someone who understands the legislative process,” Liebert said.

“I’ve been here seven to eight months and am finally getting my legs,” Liebert said. “If we appoint someone not familiar with the process, it could be more detrimentally harmful than the positive.”

The council must also decide who will serve as the new president.

Last updated: 6:54 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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