Council to expedite filling of District 3 council seat

Jim Skelton

Jim Skelton

Wichita City Council members will vote Tuesday on whether to suspend their rules for filling a vacancy on the council, the city announced this afternoon in a last minute addition to the council agenda.

The move will set the stage for District 3 Council member Jim Skelton to step down on Dec. 29 and allow the City Council to begin the process of selecting an interim council member who would serve until the April 5 election next year. The winner of the April 5 election will serve the remaining two years of Skelton’s term.

Skelton was voted in as a Sedgwick County commissioner in the Nov. 2 elections. He decided to step down earlier than the law requires in order to guarantee that his district will be able to vote on someone to fill the remaining two years of his term. If he had waited until the start of 2011, the council could have appointed someone to fill the balance of his term.

If the council approves the move at its 9:30 a.m. meeting Tuesday, interim candidates can begin collecting the 100 signatures needed to file for the seat.

The District 3 advisory board will interview candidates and recommend four to five candidates to the city council. If there are fewer than five candidates, it will forward all names to the council. The council would then vote by written ballot at a council meeting.

Skelton said he will not vote on the appointment to avoid the appearance of a conflict — though he said city law doesn’t exclude him. He said he may, however, endorse someone — though he declined to say who that might be.

The earliest an interim candidate could take power is Jan. 4, the city said.