Mayor selection topic of April 9 meeting; Council agrees to name new fire station after Radigan by David Lias The Vermillion City Council decided Monday to hold a special meeting April 9 for the sole purpose of appointing a successor to Mayor William Radigan.
Council members agreed with a suggestion by Alderman Jack Powell to hold the special meeting at 7 p.m. to choose a new mayor. They also agreed to get word out in local media to give Vermillion citizens who may be interested in the mayor's job the opportunity to submit their names to city hall before the special meeting.
City Attorney Martin Weeks said state law and Vermillion's own statutes give guidelines that may be followed to appoint a replacement following the death of someone who is holding elected office.
Radigan died in his home of natural causes March 27.
"We do have specific statutes under the city code that are quite clear and definite," Weeks told the city council. "They apply strictly to councils and cities and I think that is the set of statutes that should be applied."
This set of more narrowly defined rules, Weeks added, "provides that if there is a vacancy from any cause in the office of mayor, the vacancy shall be filled by appointment by a majority vote of the members-elect of the common council as soon as practical after the vacancy occurs to serve until the office is filled by election."
Weeks said the statute allows the city council to set its own guidelines for appointing a new mayor.
"It's a matter for the council to determine its own procedure within the bounds of that statute," he said.
Weeks suggested that the council may want to take some time in deliberations to find out who may be interested in serving as mayor, and secondly, who to ultimately appoint to the office.
"That's just a matter for the council to determine. You could consider the council as a committee-at-large and bring in your recommendations at any future meetings, but keep in mind that it should be done as soon as practical after the vacancy has occurred," he said.
"If there will be a member of the city council considered, is it true that that city member must first resign before there is consideration?" asked Alderman Roger Kozak.
"There would have to be a resignation on the part of any alderman who would be elected by the other members as the mayor," Weeks replied.
Any alderman selected to be Vermillion's next mayor, he added, would have to resign not before he is selected as mayor, but just before he takes the oath of office as mayor.
"That would leave another vacancy on the council to be filled by the remaining council members," Weeks said.
"What we would need to do is basically allow people to submit their names," Council President Frank Slagle said. "As I understand, from earlier conversations with Martin, those names could either come from people or could be from people who are
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or could be from people who are not members of this council who are interested in submitting their names."
Fire station name
The city council also agreed with a suggestion offered by Alderman Barbara Yelverton to name the city's new fire and ambulance facility after Radigan.
"I believe it would be a fitting tribute for the new fire station and ambulance facility to be named after Bill for his years of service to the fire department and his support in the building of that new station," she said. "Perhaps we need to all think about this collectively, but tonight I just wanted to introduce the concept that the station should bear his name."
City Manager Jeff Pederson noted that some city facilities in Vermillion have been named after individuals, such as the water treatment plant and the city airport.
"Are there some set of steps that we need to follow?" Jack Powell asked, "so that we do it the right way?"
"I think the only thing that is needed is to determine what the facility's name is actually going to be, and the motion to have it bear Bill's name is sufficient for now," Pederson said. "We need to be careful to remember that we are naming a building here and not re-naming a department or city service. My inclination at this point is that it would have the name 'building' or 'facility' behind it to make that distinction clear."
It had been suggested before the mayor's death that the building simply be known as Vermillion Fire and Ambulance, Pederson said. "Doug (Brunick, Vermillion's fire chief) raised the concern about the name not confusing the designation of the service, so we visited about that and I assured him that we would make sure that it would not."
Alderman Joe Grause said he has heard from some firefighters who prefer that the building be known as the Vermillion Fire and Ambulance Department. Radigan's service to the department, he said, could be recognized by naming a room of the building after him, or perhaps by hanging his picture and listing his accomplishments on an interior wall.
"I obviously can't speak for the firefighters," Yelverton said, "but it is a tribute to someone who has given a life of service to the community. You don't have to agree with me, but it is a tribute, and it's something that when all of us drive by, it will be a remembrance of this man."
"We could actually accomplish both. The building could be named after Bill, but it could still be the Vermillion Fire Department," Jack Powell said. "So, it wouldn't detract."