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The first to three votes fills the seat, Maitland Mayor Howard Schieferdecker decreed Monday night as the Council set out to fill the chair left empty on the dais following Phil Bonus’ resignation two weeks prior.
Four former city leaders and the current chair of the Planning & Zoning Commission threw their names in the race, but Jeff Flowers, who served on Council from 2004 to 2012, went from former to present Council member Monday night, receiving the first three votes.
“He’s the only one that’s been here at all the Council meetings,” Councilman Ivan Valdes said as he nominated Flowers for the seat. He said that whoever was to fill the seat needed to be up to speed on city issues, and Flowers was the most well informed.
Dale McDonald, chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission and also a regular at the meetings, was eliminated from the race after Schieferdecker requested that the appointee not run for the seat in the March election. The mayor said it would give an unfair advantage, and McDonald has already announced his candidacy for Council.
Valdes’ appointment was seconded by Councilwoman Linda Frosch and sealed by the mayor.
Councilwoman Bev Reponen said she was concerned that Flowers was already so busy as the director of the Performing Arts of Maitland that being on Council may put too much on his plate. She instead nominated former mayor Robert Breaux for the job. Last time a seat was open to appointment, following former mayor Doug Kinson’s resignation, Breaux filled in, but this time his nomination was outvoted.
“I really do like them all,” Schieferdecker said. “I will vote for any of the four because they are all very good, qualified people. … But maybe someone else should have a turn.”
Flowers was sworn into office on the spot and took up the seat formerly filled by Bonus for the remainder of the meeting. Flowers said he was flattered by the nomination and ready to jump in and serve in the seat until the March election.
“It’s time to help the Council through these couple of months and then send it on to the next,” Flowers said.
Flowers also serves as a member of the city’s Charter Review Commission, which presented suggestions to the Council this week following a special meeting last Monday. The group met to draft possible changes to the Charter regarding the city’s power to remove Council members from office. The debate was spurred following the Council realizing it had no power to remove Bonus from office following the prostitution and DUI scandal that surrounded him earlier this month and led to his eventual resignation.
Commission Chair Robert Gebaide presented possible revisions to remedy this and other issues, including adding “driving under the influence, public intoxication, theft, or prostitution” to reasons a Council member will automatically forfeit office. The Commission also proposed the city drafting a standard code of conduct to which elected officials would be held.
The Council tabled approving all of the revisions suggested by the Commission, pending more discussion to be had at a special meeting on the subject on Monday, Oct. 29, at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers. Any proposed revisions to the Charter must be approved by Council and submitted to the supervisor of elections by Jan. 25 so they can be placed on the March ballot.