Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 20, 2018

Board mulls appointment deadline, special election

By Nicole Major, Ledger staff writer | Aug 23, 2017

The Fairfield Community School District Board of Directors discussed holding a special election versus an appointment for the newly open seat of former school board President Phil Miller.

Miller was recently elected to the Iowa House of Representatives.

An appointee would complete Miller’s remaining two years. Although Miller was the president, the new board member wouldn’t automatically assume that position.

During the meeting, school board member Paul Miller said a special election might be required to fill the vacancy.

“If a petition comes forward ... we are required to have a special election,” Miller said.

He later commented that a petition would likely come in, because those candidates who are currently running for a school board seat are unable to apply for the appointment.

“We’ve got 15 candidates running saying ‘Hey, I’m putting in the time, but I can’t even run for that vacated seat?’” Miller said.

School superintendent Laurie Noll confirmed today that those already running would not be eligible to apply for the recently vacated seat.

“They would not be able to drop out of the race and apply — it’s too late to withdraw their names from the ballot,” Noll said, adding that there was a precedent for appointing someone to the school board.

“When [Phil] Miller ended up on the board, they had an election with several candidates, but someone from the board left and several people came forward and he was appointed out of that group. That was around four years ago,” Noll said.


Thirty days to appoint

The school board has 30 days from the date that Miller tendered his resignation, effective Aug. 16, to appoint a replacement.

“That 30 days will end Sept. 14,” said board secretary Kim Sheets. “Also, [the state] required us to publish a notice of intent to appoint — and we published that on Aug. 16. That would give community members 14 days to file a petition asking for a special election.”

Sheets said that petitions would need to be turned in by Aug. 30.

“That would put the wheels in motion for a special election, which has to be at least 60 days but less than 70 days from that publication,” she said.

Sheets said the special Election Day would be determined by the Jefferson County auditor.

“If the board appoints a person, that individual would serve up to that special election date. Then they would be invited to run,” Sheets said, adding that the individual wouldn’t be required to run.

The district recently released the public notice, which is on its website at www.fairfieldsfuture.org. The notice advises those interested in being appointed to the board to contact Sheets.


Question and answer session

The board plans to hold a question and answer period with candidates during a work session at 6 p.m. Monday at the Administration/Curriculum/Technology Center.

At the conclusion of the work session, the board intends to move into a special meeting to review those candidates. During the special meeting, the board intends to appoint a replacement and give that person the oath of office.

“That was the plan,” Sheets said of the impending work session. “But we have not published that agenda yet.”

Noll said the board will make the first move at its work session Monday.

“If there is a petition, there needs to be a special election; but if they want to appoint someone, they could do that, and that person would serve until the election and have that opportunity to run, too,” she said. “I think that the board will do what’s right for the district, and either way, by October we will have somebody there for sure.”

In the meantime, school board member Kate Van Pelt is serving as the interim president and board member Warren Schaefer is acting vice president.

“After September, the current board will close out their meeting and the new board members from that election will reorganize and select a new president,” Noll said.

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