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Estherville City Council Discusses Options To Fill Upcoming Vacancy; Hears Concerns Over Book Purchase

Mon 7-19-2021

(Estherville)-- The Estherville City Council will soon have a vacancy on it. Longtime council member Gene Haukoos has announced he'll be resigning from his at-large seat on the council effective August 4th. His term expires in 2024. City Administrator Penny Clayton outlined to the council Monday evening possible options to fill the upcoming vacancy...Eville Council071901 

"And so you can either fill it by appointment or you can fill it by special election. A special election can be held in conjunction with a regularly scheduled election according to Iowa Code, and so November 2nd would be the regular city election and at that time we could fill the vacancy. In fact, even if you appoint someone, that position will be on the ballot in November. So you can choose to make a temporary appointment for the short term and then hold the election or you can hold the election. Either way that decision will be on the ballot in November."

Councilman Brandon Carlin said based on that and the fact several people have expressed an interest in the position, he would not be in favor of making a short term appointment...Eville Council071902 

"If he was only interested in doing it on a temporary basis and there wasn't much interest declared yet, I could see putting in somebody that has had experience at some point with the council, but in the current standings I think that it's, I feel that it's best to leave it be and let everybody go from the same platform."

A motion to not make an appointment and instead wait until the November election was approved.

On another matter, the council heard concern from a resident over action the council took a couple of weeks to spend $1,000 on the purchase of some books promoting diversity and inclusion, saying she was concerned it could set a precedence...Eville Council071903 

"If you buy a book on this subject, then it's only fair to buy a book on this subject, and this subject. And once you start going down that road I think you're going to have problems."

Another citizen expressed concern over the use of taxpayer money to purchase the books, saying she doesn't feel inclusion and diversity is a problem in Estherville. Mayor Joseph May says that isn't the message city officials received in comments from a recent housing assessment...Eville Council071904 

"Not everyone was agreeing in the assessment that there is not a racial problem. I've had people contact me to talk about that. So we just walk through it. And one of the things that came out like I said in our housing assessment was how do we celebrate other cultures? And not every culture feels celebrated. So this is one of the methods."

The comments were made during the public forum portion of Monday's meeting.