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updated: 4/1/2014 11:56 PM

Elgin can decide whether to replace Moeller

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It's official -- the Elgin City Council can decide whether to appoint someone to the seat vacated by new state Rep. Anna Moeller.

Elgin Corporation Counsel William Cogley sent a memo to council members Tuesday saying that, under state law, appointments shall be made within 60 days, but that's not mandatory. Any appointment would require a simple majority of five votes, he said.

Moeller's 4-year seat would have been up for election in April 2015.

Democrat Moeller was sworn in Sunday to replace Keith Farnham in the 43rd District. Farnham resigned last month amid a federal investigation.

Councilwoman Carol Rauschenberger said she leans toward appointing someone to the eight-member council.

"I think a year is a long time to keep it open, and I guess you need that odd number (of council members) so ties are broken," she said.

The council could consider appointing the runner-up in the April 2013 race for 4-year seats, Rauschenberger said.

Former councilman Bob Gilliam, who battled health issues last year, came in fifth in the race for four seats. Next was Mitchell Esterino.

Councilman John Prigge said he believes the seat should remain vacant until the April 2015 election.

"The odds are that whoever is appointed will be at an unfair disadvantage because they're not going to be able to catch up," he said.

If any criteria should be applied regarding past elections, it should be the runner-up in the April 2011 election for 4-year seats, when Moeller ran, Prigge said. That was former councilman Mike Warren, he said.

Still, "There is a heavy tinge of politics if you appoint someone in a position like a council person with only a year to go before the next election," he said.

Councilman Toby Shaw also said the seat should stay vacant.

"I think it will be challenging to come to an agreement to find a replacement, as well as it would be challenging for a new person to get up to speed in time for the budget process" later this year, he said.

On Monday, Councilman Rich Dunne said someone should be appointed, while Councilman Terry Gavin said the seat should remain vacant.

Mayor David Kaptain and Councilwoman Tish Powell said they hadn't decided yet, and couldn't be reached Tuesday. Councilman John Steffen is on vacation.

The city council is expected to discuss the issue in closed session at its Wednesday, April 9 meeting. Any votes regarding appointments must take place during open session, Cogley said.

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