Gladstone commissioner steps down

GLADSTONE – Gladstone City Commissioner Dave Olsen resigned his position on the commission at a special meeting Monday night. Residents will now be able to vote for Olsen’s replacement during the election on Nov. 5.

“It’s been good, I’ve learned a lot from everybody,” said Olsen of his time with the commission.

Olsen, who is planning to move to Cody, Wyo., with his wife in September, chose to vacate the seat early to allow the commission time to act on the open seat.

The seats held by Mayor Darin Hunter and Commissioners Joe Maki and Hugo Mattonen will be on the ballot on Nov. 5, however a lack of applicants for the seats has the commission concerned that there may not be the quorum necessary to fill Olsen’s vacated position following the election.

Currently, only Maki has filed for re-election and only Commissioner Matt Gay will remain seated following the election. While citizens interested in running for the open commission seats have picked up petitions, none of the petitions were returned to the city by Monday night.

Olsen presented two resignation letters to the commission Monday night – an officially filed letter requesting to vacate the position on July 31, and an alternate letter which would have allowed Olsen to resign effective Sept. 15. The commission chose to accept the letter of resignation that would take effect July 31, and not to fill Olsen’s seat with an appointment.

“Four commissioners can still conduct 99.9 percent of the business,” said City Manager Darla Falcon. “To pass an ordinance, you’ll need a majority, which you’ll still have. Under commissioner rules, if there’s anything listed that says you have to have a full commission you won’t be able to do that.”

The choice not to fill the position with an appointment was made largely due to the time table for interested citizens to return petitions to the city to be on the ballot.

All petitions must be returned by Aug. 13 at 4 p.m.

“It would be interesting for someone to sit in this seat for a couple months, but at the same time they would have to file by the 13th, so I don’t know if it’s even productive to do anything with it at this point,” said Gay.

Had the commission chosen to accept the second letter presented by Olsen and allow him to resign effective Sept. 15, Olsen would not have vacated the seat within 60 days of the election – a requirement for the seat to be placed on the ballot according to election law.

“If Commissioner Olsen was leaving us a few months ago, I would say that we’d want to look at maybe appointing,” said Hunter. “This close to … an election, my opinion would be that without anything for the foreseeable future that’s going to require a full commission vote, I would think that the democratic process should take its place.”

While the commission was in full agreement that Olsen’s seat should be placed on the ballot, the commission also noted some members of the community had expressed the opinion that appointments were unfair opportunities for the commission to hand-pick successors.

“This commission, and most commissions, now accept applications and do the interview process in public,” said Maki, adding that the process did not take place behind closed doors.

Because Olsen’s seat will now be open on the ballot for the Nov. 5, election, citizens interested in running for the commission seats will have the opportunity to select a two- or four-year term. Olsen’s seat would be filled by whichever candidate won running for the two-year term.

If no candidates elected to run for a two-year term, the position would be filled by appointment following the election. A minimum of three commission members would be required to make the appointment.