The Star Valley Town Council will consider appointing a new mayor at its May 7 meeting, just ahead of a May 18 deadline. If the council doesn’t act by then, the town code will require a special election within 90 days.
Star Valley Mayor Bill Rappaport resigned April 18, stung by the criticism of fellow councilors concerning his support for background checks for people who buy guns at gun shows. He told the Payson Roundup, “There has been so much misinformation going around. I just don’t want to subject myself to this. My wife and I, we don’t need this.”
Tim Grier, the Star Valley town manager and attorney, has advised the council it may appoint a mayor from within its ranks or from among interested residents from the community. However, if they don’t fill the vacancy within 30 days the town code requires a special election. That means the council can make the appointment to the $400-a-month position by May 18, 2013 or hold an election.
The council could also presumably elect one of themselves as mayor before May 18 and then appoint before June 18 someone from the community to the council vacancy created by that action.
Faced with that deadline roaring down the calendar and the associated expenses of a special election, the council must act quickly.
Grier issued the following public notice: “At the May 7, 2013 regular council meeting of the Town of Star Valley, the council will consider appointment of a new mayor to serve until the next election to be held in the fall of 2014. Any person interested in being considered for this position must be 18 years or older, a qualified elector residing in Star Valley and have resided in Star Valley for more than one year.
Interested persons should submit a letter of interest to Star Valley Town Hall, 3675 E. Highway 260, Star Valley, AZ 85541 prior to 5 p.m., Monday, May 6, 2013. All interested persons are encouraged to attend the council meeting on May 7, 2013 at 6 p.m., which will be held at Star Valley Town Hall, 3675 E. Highway 260, Star Valley, AZ.”
After a review of both the Star Valley Town Code and Arizona Revised Statutes, Grier told the council members in a memo April 22, “My legal analysis, thus, concludes, that the council has the option to appoint someone outside the council.”
In the same memo, Grier said, “… it is my opinion that the vacancy created by the resignation … may be filled by the appointment of either a current council member or an at-large resident ...”
He concluded by telling the council, “Time is of the essence in making an appointment to fill the mayoral vacancy. The next regular council meeting is scheduled for May 7, 2013, and the agenda will include discussion and possible action to appoint a new mayor. Town Code provides that if an appointment is not made within thirty (30) days following the vacancy, then a special election must be called to fill the vacancy.”
Grier sent out a follow-up memo on the issue April 24.
“My suggested course of action is that the council call for interested parties to submit letters of interest, which would be accomplished by placing a notice in the Payson Roundup. Then at the May 7th meeting, the council will review the letters, discuss the qualifications of the various candidates, and make a selection of the best-qualified person. If any current council member is interested in this position, he or she would also be required to submit a letter of interest.
“If the council does not like the above selection process, the council could discuss, debate, deliberate and choose a different process to fill the vacancy of the mayor at the May 7th meeting. Just as a word of caution, as stated in my memo of April 22nd, time is of the essence. In the event a new mayor is not chosen on or before May 18th, 2013, then council must consider the provision of the Town Code … which states: ‘If the council fails to make such appointment within thirty (30) days following the occurrence of the vacancy, the election authorities shall call a special election to fill the vacancy. Such election shall be held not sooner than ninety (90) days and not later than one hundred twenty (120) days following the occurrence of the vacancy.’ This meant that if council fails to fill the vacancy at the May 7th meeting, then either the council must call for a special election before May 18, 2013 … or fill the vacancy by special election.”
Grier added the 90-day lag time before the earliest an election could be held would leave the council with an extended vacancy.
Grier’s April 24 memo also brought up the issue of potential conflict of interest. Any sitting council member interested in the mayor’s job could not participate in the discussion or selection process — since the promotion would mean a bump in pay and therefore represents a “pecuniary gain and creates a conflict,” Grier said.
If the council elects a current member as mayor, they would fill the vacancy created by that appointment by the same process, he added.