East Ridge Mayor Mike Steele shut down discussion on a soon-to-be-vacant City Council seat, saying the next council will have to address the issue.
Steele told a resident during the meeting Thursday night, “I don’t think it’s appropriate that we get involved in who you might particularly recommend to the council.”
Steele was addressing a concern about filling vacancies on the City Council. Two seats were open in the recent election. The open seats were taken by Councilman Larry Sewell and Jim Bethune.
Councilman Brent Lambert’s seat does not open until 2012. However, he ran for mayor and won, leaving a vacancy once he is sworn in as mayor next month.
Ruth Braly, of East Ridge, addressed the council Thursday when the floor was opened for residents. She said the empty seat should be filled by the candidate running for City Council who received the third-highest votes. Mark Gravitt got the third-highest votes in the election with 1,490.
“This should be a very easy decision for this council,” Braly said.
Steele told Braly he recognized she was supportive of her candidate but that it was not the council’s decision. Steele said the decision could be made after the next council had been sworn in.
Steele said there were people in the audience who voted for other candidates in the race who may think their candidate would be a better choice.
Braly said it wasn’t about favorites.
“Again I say it’s not particularly Mark Gravitt,” Braly said. “It is the third-highest vote. It should automatically go to that person.”
The East Ridge City Charter states when a seat is vacant, the council can appoint a replacement. If the council does not, then the empty seat can be filled by the mayor.
Interim City Manager Eddie Phillips said the city would hold its oath of office ceremony on Monday, Dec. 13, at 6:30 p.m. at East Ridge City Hall followed by a reception.