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posted: 4/1/2014 5:30 AM

Elgin Council to hear about options regarding vacancy

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  • Anna Moeller

      Anna Moeller

 
 

Elgin City Council members have different opinions regarding whether to fill the seat left vacant by Anna Moeller's resignation to take state office.

Moeller became the new Democratic representative for the 43rd House District Sunday. She resigned her council seat in a letter received Monday morning by the remaining eight city council members, Elgin Mayor David Kaptain said.

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Keith Farnham, the former state representative, resigned March 19 amid a federal investigation that included the execution of a warrant at his Elgin office looking for evidence of child pornography.

The city council will get an opinion about its options later this week from Elgin Corporation Counsel William Cogley, Kaptain said. Cogley is on vacation until Tuesday.

Since 1998, three Elgin council members have resigned their posts, including Ruth Munson, who was appointed to the 43rd House District in 2002. John McKevitt resigned in 1998, and Mike Powers resigned in 2008.

Councilwoman Marie Yearman died in office in 2003.

In all four cases, their seats were left open until the next election, although in at least one instance the council tried to, but failed, to reach a consensus on an appointment.

Additionally, former councilman Juan Figueroa was appointed in 1999 to fill the seat vacated by Ed Schock when he was elected mayor.

Councilman Rich Dunne said someone should be appointed to Moeller's seat, which expires in April 2015.

"I think that we should bring the council back to full strength, so that we can do the work for the citizens of Elgin as soon as possible," he said.

Councilman Terry Gavin said the seat should be left vacant.

"It's only a year away until the next open election," he said. "Somebody coming in green at this point, I think it's a disservice to the council and to that person."

Also, it's unlikely any appointment would garner a unanimous vote from the city council, Gavin said. "I would think that if that happens, it's not going to be pretty," he said.

The city would save about $10,000 in stipend without a ninth council member, he added.

Kaptain said he's already received a couple dozen suggestions concerning who should be appointed.

He hasn't made up his mind about the best course of action but pointed out the current eight-member council could yield split votes, which are akin to a "no."

"The worst case example is, we get to the end of December and we are deadlocked on the budget," he said.

Resident Jo Ann Armenta asked Kaptain via Facebook to appoint an Asian, black or Latina woman.

Armenta says there have been very few women -- especially minorities -- on the city council since she moved to Elgin in 1979.

"It would make sense that other points of view should be heard in local government," she said.

Kaptain said that, if anyone is appointed, it should be a woman with previous knowledge of city government.

Not filling Moeller's seat could lead to criticism, said Jim Tenuto, assistant executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections.

"As a general rule, in order to get representation, it probably should be filled because it tips the balance of power."

The discussion is expected to take place in executive session at the next city council meeting April 9.

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