Appointment followed statute
Several weeks ago I appointed Jeff Peterson to fill the vacant city council seat left open with the resignation of Councilman Kevin Miller. Following that appointment Councilman Bill Whitten indicated to the press that he believed the appointment was not done properly. Therefore, I requested and obtained a legal opinion from Lathrop & Gage, our city legal advisors.
In the opinion, attorney Curtis Tideman wrote that state statute requires a mayor shall appoint a council member to fill a vacant city council position with the "advice and consent" of the remaining council members. Tideman wrote: "My understanding is that a question has arisen about whether or not the mayor was required to provide information on the candidates to individual council members prior to their vote on the mayor's appointment. After having reviewed the statutory language, common law and attorney general opinions under K.S.A. Â§ 15-201, my conclusion is that there is no such legal obligation owed by the mayor to individual council members. Council members, of course, are free to conduct their own inquiry into the qualifications of any candidate.
"In this case, my understanding is that the mayor interviewed potential candidates with the Council President Lori Fritzel. Strictly speaking, however, that was not a legal requirement. Pursuant to Kansas law, there is no legal requirement setting forth the quantity or quality of information which must be provided by the mayor to individual council members prior to the time the 'advice and consent of the remaining council members' is requested to fill the vacant seat. Accordingly, it is my opinion that an allegation that insufficient information was provided to individual council members prior to seeking their 'advice and consent' constitutes no deficiency in the appointment . . ."
As mayor, I believe it is important that we earn public confidence. I want to reassure the citizens of Eudora that legal advice was sought before the appointment and that the correct process was followed in the appointment of Councilman Peterson.
I don't think all members of the council were satisfied with the opinion, but I would hope that we don't let individual disagreements impede the process of the city and that we can move forward with the city projects in process or started and we continue with support from the council to improve on our work operations that have been and are being successfully implemented by our city administrator.
As your mayor, I am committed to doing what is good for Eudora. In 2007, we will be holding public meetings to seek your input on building a plan for the future of Eudora, which will then help us establish our community goals and budget. And, you are always welcome to stop by or call me at Pyle Meat to visit.
Mayor, city of Eudora