City Council member Jim Skelton said this afternoon that he’ll resign from the council before Jan. 1, ensuring that people in District 3 in southeast Wichita have a chance to elect someone to serve the two remaining years of his term.
If Skelton had waited until after Jan. 1 to step down, the council would have been able to appoint someone for the remaining two years of his term.
“The people in my district wan an opportunity to elect somebody,” he said.
Skelton, who was elected Nov. 2 as a Sedgwick County Commissioner, said that he hopes the council will appoint an interim council member to serve between January and April to ensure his constituents are represented.
“The district needs representation,” he said. “I don’t feel comfortable with an open seat for three months.” He added that it’s important for the council to have seven members because some votes require a super majority.
He said he will not support anyone for the interim position who plans to run in the election because it gives them an unfair advantage in campaigning. It’s unclear whether Skelton would be able to vote on his replacement.
Whether the council decides to appoint someone for the short interim term remains to be seen. Mayor Carl Brewer asked City Attorney Gary Rebenstorf to provide the council a briefing on all of its options. For example, Skelton said he would submit a Dec. 29 resignation date in coming weeks if it would give the city council and district advisory board more time to vet interim candidates. Rebenstorf said he thinks that would work, but he plans to research the law to make sure.
To appoint an interim representative, the District 3 advisory board would interview willing candidates and forward four or five to the city council for a vote.
If the process can’t begin until Skelton actually leaves office at the end of the year, it could take a month or more to fill the vacancy. That would leave the interim council member with only about a month of time in office before the election.
“I want to get it going as soon as possible,” Skelton said.
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