Following the announcement May 7 that Rick Sanders was stepping down from the Story County Board of Supervisors to become the next president of the Iowa State University Research Park, county officials have begn the process of filling his seat on the board.
Sanders’ resignation is the most recent of changes for the board over the past year that included the election of Linda Murken last fall, which flipped the board in favor of Democrats 2-1.
Last month, Murken took over as board chair after Lauris Olson stepped down as chair because of health reasons.
Now, the county looks to fill a vacant seat for the first time since 2016, when Supervisor Paul Toot unexpectedly passed away, and Martin Chitty was appointed to fill Toot’s seat.
Before then, the last time a seat was vacated because of resignation was in August 2010, when James Strohman resigned and Sanders took over, starting his nine-year tenure on the board.
What happens next?
Sanders’ seat on the board must be filled 40 days after his final day on May 31. The responsibility lies with Story County Auditor Lucy Martin, County Treasurer Ted Rasmussen and County Recorder Stacie Herridge, to decide whether to fill Sanders’ seat on the board by appointment or by special election.
The committee will meet on Monday May 20, according to Herridge, and the committee has set a date for publication of information to the media by Thursday, May 16.
According to Iowa Code, if the committee decides to fill the position by appointment, a public hearing date will be scheduled.
If that happens, the public has 14 days to file a petition calling for a special election. The petition must have at least 10 percent of the number of people who voted in the last general election to force a special election to fill the seat.
If the committee opts to fill the seat by appointment, it would go on the next general election ballot to fill the remainder of Sanders’ term until the 2020 election.
Murken said on Wednesday that it’s business as usual for the board.
There will be no regular meeting on May 14 due to two absent supervisors, but the May 21 and 28 meetings will be conducted as regular meetings. The board will continue to operate as usual following May 31, as it will have the required two members for quorum.
“We have had some changes on the board throughout the year, mostly with a re-assignment of roles, but we’ve had three committed supervisors all year,” Murken said. “We know what needs to get done as elected officials and county supervisors, and we’re going to continue those efforts.”