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Council Approves Appointment Process to Fill Vacancy in District 3

Published on Monday, September 12, 2022 | 7:33 pm

The City Council unanimously agreed to the framework to be used to fill the District 3 seat left vacant by the death of John J. Kennedy.

Kennedy died in July creating the vacancy which must be filled by Oct. 4.

On Monday, City Council members called for public engagement from residents living in the district.

“One of the things we did struggle with was the fact that we are contemplating two appointments over a long period of time,” said Steve Madison. “I hope when the appropriate time comes we will be able to get as much feedback from the residents of that district as to what their expectations are.”

Pastor Lucious Smith, Brandon Lamar and Justin Jones have qualified for the seat.

“We have three candidates that have stepped up and we will have to find our way to selecting an initial appointment,” said Mayor Victor Gordo.

According to a city staff report, on September 2 an ad hoc committee of Mayor Gordo and Councilmembers Tyron Hampton, Steve Madison, and Jess Rivas met to discuss the appointment process for filling the vacancy.

The ad hoc committee is recommending applicants receive 5-7 minutes for an introduction and overview of their background, qualifications, and involvement in City and District 3 issues.

The applicants will then answer a set number of questions, and each Councilmember will receive up to three additional minutes to ask unscripted questions.

Each applicant could have about 45 minutes in front of the Council if each elected official uses the full three minutes to ask questions.

The candidates will be asked to come to council chambers for the process.

During that time candidates will ask some scripted questions and can make unscripted inquiries.

“The ad hoc committee also discussed the issue of members of the City Council meeting one-on-one with applicants. The committee’s four members unanimously agreed not to meet with applicants outside the public interview process. This approach was also strongly recommended to the remaining Councilmembers,” according to a city staff report.

“If meetings have already occurred, or occur in the future, Councilmembers are asked to publicly disclose those meetings at the special meeting on September 29 prior to interviews, as a matter of transparency.”

Gordo said he had received calls from two of the applicants informing him they would be throwing their hat in the ring. Gordo said he ran into the third candidate a week ago, but said he did not discuss the process or the appointment with them.

“I think in fairness to the candidates we are asking in the spirit of transparency to just disclose any involvement or engagement with individuals,” Gordo said. “In the interest of transparency and fairness we just say it.”

The City Council is scheduled to appoint the new District 3 Councilmember on Sept. 29 just one day before a public service is held for Kennedy.

Kennedy died on July 21. He had recently defeated Lamar in the June primary.

The City Council will conduct the appointment process again in December to fill that term. The process could be refined for the second appointment based on how the City Council engages the public for the initial appointment.

The meeting will take place at 5 p.m. on Sept. 29 and aired live.

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