The effort to replace Ward I City Councilman Scott Houghtaling will soon commence, even as legal staff works to simplify the process.
City Attorney Pat Sullivan said the Bellevue ordinance controlling appointment of someone to a vacated seat is unnecessarily cumbersome, imposing tight deadlines that do not apply to cities of the first class under state statutes.
He said the requirements more properly belong to cities of the second class. Bellevue’s process should be simpler: Mayor Rita Sanders proposes a candidate and the City Council approves or disapproves on a majority vote.
Sullivan said a revised ordinance is being written and will be placed before the City Council at its Feb. 25 session. He said he will likely ask that all three readings, including the public hearing, be held that night and the ordinance passed into law.
Sanders need not wait until passage of that ordinance before soliciting applications, Sullivan said.
Houghtaling announced Feb. 12 that he will leave the City Council March 31, about three months after being sworn to his second term. He said a job promotion requires him to relocate near Columbus, Ohio.
Sanders said she is eager to begin looking for Houghtaling’s replacement. It is an especially significant appointment because the appointee will serve virtually a full four-year term, she said.
“I’ll be looking for someone who lives in Ward I, obviously,” she said, “but also someone who has been involved in the community so that there won’t be a big learning curve for them. We have an opportunity to find someone of quality, so let’s do it.”
One applicant will be Steve Carmichael, who finished behind Houghtaling in last November’s election with 46 percent of the vote.
Carmichael served as chief building official for the City of Bellevue before taking the same position for Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Both Carmichael and Houghtaling are Republicans. Council members are selected in a nonpartisan election.
Carmichael said last week he was already finishing up his application letter.
“Forty-six percent of the vote last November should mean I have a good chance,” he said.
Sanders said her goal is to appoint someone as soon as possible after Houghtaling’s replacement becomes effective on March 31.
The next council session after Houghtaling leaves will be held April 8.