Houck resigning from City Commission
Tracy Houck is resigning from the City Commission, effective Nov. 5.
In a Thursday afternoon Facebook post, she wrote that she has accepted a position with Northrop Grumman in their Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program as a small business liaison officer.
Under the city charter, when a vacancy occurs, commissioners “may, by majority vote of its remaining members, appoint a person eligible to hold such office, to fill the vacancy of city commissioner or mayor, until the next regular city election.”
Since the city election was just held on Nov. 2, once the commission appoints a replacement, that person will serve the remainder of Houck’s term and be up for election in 2023.
Had Houck resigned the week before the election, or even the month before, the seat would not have gone to the third highest vote getter, according to state law and the county elections office.
Per state law:
7-4-4112. Filling of vacancy. (1) When a vacancy occurs in any elective office, this position is considered open and subject to nomination and election at the next general municipal election in the same manner as the election of any other person holding the same office, except the term of office is limited to the unexpired term of the person who originally created the vacancy. Pending an election and qualification, the council shall, by a majority vote of the members, appoint a person within 30 days of the vacancy to hold the office until a successor is elected and qualified.
For the two seats that were on the Nov. 2 ballot, filing opened in April and closed in June.
The city has not yet released the process it will take to fill this vacancy and The Electric will update once that is set.
Houck wrote that it was bittersweet to resign and “I value the support and trust the citizens have given me to help guide and lead our community. Thank you for your help while I served my community and the time to have had the opportunity to have worked with you. It has been a pleasure to help build and grow our amazing Great Falls community.”
Houck is halfway through her second four-year term on the commission, having been reelected in 2019.
Houck told The Electric that she started her new position in late October and this week was asked to assist in North Dakota.
“It is not fair to the commission/city to not be 100 percent committed. Since there will also be shadows of perceived conflict of interests and 100 percent commitment, I felt it was best to step down,” she wrote in an email to The Electric. “On a personal note, I also have a mom who recently fell and broke her hip out of state. My resignation will also give me the freedom to handle some personal needs that are associated with her and a few others in my life.”
The last time there was a vacancy on the commission was 2012, when Mary Jolley resigned to take a position as a justice of the peace.
The city charter does not provide a process for filling a vacancy and in 2012, the city accepted applications for the position.
That time, 32 citizens filed applications that were reviewed by the remaining commissioner members and they selected eight to be interviewed.
The commission voted to appoint Bob Kelly to the seat in 2012 and he ran for election in the following municipal election in 2013.
Under state law, municipal elections are held in odd years.