Committee studies expanding public’s role in filling Surprise council vacancies

city-councilA panel of three City Council members is studying potential changes to the appointment process to fill vacancies on the 7-member governing body over concerns about a perceived lack of public input in the procedure.

The study comes as the council prepares to address the upcoming departure of District 2 Councilman Richard Alton, who submitted his resignation last week, effective Dec. 31. Mr. Alton’s departure would be the third of a sitting council member this year, following the May resignation of Mike Woodard and the June death of Roy Villanueva.

A few residents have criticized the process for filling vacancies, saying appointments skirt the public’s right to vote on their representatives. But Surprise officials point out they have no choice; the process is set forth by Arizona state law that does not allow for special elections.

“We are bound by the law, and we are following it,” said Mayor Sharon Wolcott, a Rules Committee member.


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