By Zach Hagadone
It has been almost a month since former-Sandpoint City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton resigned her position, effective Jan. 3, and members of the City Council will discuss how — or even whether — to fill the job at their regular Feb. 7 meeting.
Councilor Joel Aispuro and new Council President Jason Welker expressed support for having that conversation as early as the Jan. 3 meeting, even before the current council and mayor had been sworn in.
“That should be a discussion we have as soon as possible,” Welker said at the time.
In a follow up email Jan. 30, Welker told the Reader that the urgency to address the vacancy flows from both city and state statute, which stipulates that the mayor is obligated to fill empty appointive positions with the consent of City Council. However, “Should the mayor make an appointment that council does not approve, the mayor would have 10 days to bring another name, or the council would be able to appoint someone of their own choosing,” he wrote.
Mayor Jeremy Grimm, who campaigned in part on eliminating the city administrator job, said the discussion “comes down to the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of government.”
Meanwhile, Welker told the Reader that eliminating the position would require a code change. However, “I think the direction we’re most likely going to go is restructuring … with a new job description that the mayor and council will work together to craft.”
“I don’t think anyone desires to have a city administrator that wields the kind of power and influence over the agenda that we had under our previous administration,” he added. “The people of Sandpoint deserve leadership that is accountable to voters and responsive to the interests of residents first and foremost.”
The Sandpoint City Council will meet Wednesday, Feb. 7 at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall, 1123 Lake St. Go to sandpointidaho.gov and follow the “Meetings” link to participate via Zoom.
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