Hinebauch appointed to fill Houck’s city commission seat

City Commissioners unanimously voted during their Nov. 16 meeting to appoint Eric Hinebauch to the vacancy created by Tracy Houck’s resignation.

He’ll take the seat in December and have to run for the seat in the regular 2023 city election.

Mayor Bob Kelly said the last time there was a vacancy was when he was appointed in 2012.

In that case, Mary Jolley resigned from the commission after being elected as a county justice of the peace, a position she retired from earlier this year.

In that case, the day following Jolley’s resignation, the city opened the seat for applications, interviewed top candidates and appointed Kelly within a month.

Commission set to consider Hinebauch for Houck vacancy

There was not a city election that year, as under state law, municipal elections are in odd years.

The city charter dictates that the commission can fill a vacancy until the next regular election, but does not specify a process by which the vacancy should be filled. State law requires the vacancy be filled within 30 days.

The city election was Nov. 2 and unofficial results were posted that night. Houck announced her resignation on Nov. 4 to be effective Nov. 5.

Houck resigning from City Commission

Kelly said that a commissioner floated the idea of appointing Hinebauch, as the third place vote getter in this year’s city election. He said that commissioners talked individually, wondering what the process was and consulted the city attorney.

“I endorse the way we’re going forward with this 100 percent,” Kelly said.

Commissioner Rick Tryon said he agreed with the process as “a way to give a nod to the voters.”

He said that the commission should codify a process for the future.

Election 2021: Results

Commissioner Mary Moe, who is leaving the commission at the end of the year, said that there could be different reasons for vacancies that would make it difficult to codify a process.

Jeni Dodd, a member of the public, asked why commissioners didn’t follow the same process as 2012, making it seem “capricious. It gives the appearance of the commission making up rules as they go.”

Under the city charter, “when a vacancy occurs, the City Commission may, by majority vote of its remaining members, appoint a person, eligible to hold such office, to fill the vacancy of the city commissioner or mayor until the next regular city election. The person elected at the next regular city election shall serve the unexpired term of the office in which the vacancy occurred.”

City Commission Candidate Q&A: Eric Hinebauch

The city charter nor state law specify the process by which the city should fill a vacancy on the commission.

“Several members of the City Commission have individually indicated a willingness to consider the appointment of the individual with the third-highest vote count in the election recently conducted,” according to the staff report.

Hinebauch had the third highest vote count, after Susan Wolff and Joe McKenney, who will be sworn in to their four-year commission terms in January.

According to the staff report, Hinebauch has been contacted and said he is willing to accept an appointment to the commission.