Iowa City Council will meet on Friday to decide how to fill vacant seat

Iowa City Hall — photo by Zak Neumann

The Iowa City Council will hold a special meeting on Friday to decide how to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Kingsley Botchway. Council members will have two options, either appoint someone to fill the at-large seat or schedule a special election and allow voters to decide.

If the council decides to fill the seat by appointment, it will accept applications from members of the public. Interested parties would be asked to submit “a cover letter, resume, and/or statement of qualifications or relevant experience,” according to a document prepared for Friday’s meeting. The council vote to fill the seat would be scheduled for a meeting on Sept. 4.

The appointment would last until the next scheduled city election in November 2019.

According to another document prepared for the Friday meeting, if the council decides to hold a special election instead, the election would be held on Oct. 2. The Johnson County Auditor’s Office estimates that a special election would cost $30,000. Because of recent changes to Iowa state law, the at-large position can’t appear on the ballot in this November general election.

Even if the council decides to fill the seat through an appointment, voters can still force a special election by filing a petition with Iowa City Clerk’s Office. The petition would need to be filed within 14 days of an appointment, and have at least 637 signatures (10 percent of the total votes cast for all the at-large candidates in last year’s election).

Regardless of whether the seat is filled by appointment or through a special election, there are certain minimal qualifications for the position. According to state law, a person must be a citizen of the United States, 18 years old and live in Iowa City. No one convicted of a felony can serve, unless the person’s voting rights have been restored by either the president or a governor.

The person who fills the seat will serve out Botchway’s remaining term. Botchway was reelected to the council last fall, and his term runs through 2021. He resigned on July 17 to take a job with Waterloo Community School District.

The special city council meeting to determine how to fill the vacant seat will be held at 8 a.m. on Friday, August 3.

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