|
|
The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Prosecutor to remain elected role

  • Rolla residents, perhaps some of them voters, apparently informed members of the Rolla City Council that they didn't want to lose the right to elect the city attorney, for all but one councilman eagerly voted Monday night to drop the subject they had talked about previously with interest.
    • email print
  • Rolla residents, perhaps some of them voters, apparently informed members of the Rolla City Council that they didn't want to lose the right to elect the city attorney, for all but one councilman eagerly voted Monday night to drop the subject they had talked about previously with interest.
    "My recommendation is we don't even bring it to the table," Councilman J.D. Williams said right after Mayor Bill Jenks announced the ordinance to change the elective position to an appointive position was ready for first reading.
    To make the change would be to eliminate a right, Williams said.
    Jenks asked if he wanted to make that recommendation a motion. Williams immediately entered a motion to drop the subject of appointing the city attorney, and Councilman Brian Woolley seconded it.
    There was some discussion before the vote was taken.
    Councilman Lou Magdits asked if the council could rescind the residency requirement for an elective position. The answer was no, from City Administrator John Butz and councilmen who answered in unison.
    Woolley interjected that the main justification for making the switch, as promulgated in previous discussions, was to find a larger pool of qualified candidates because an appointive city attorney (also called city prosecutor) would not have to be a city resident.
    Yet, he said, in 2012, there were three "highly qualified" candidates for the elective office who were willing to work for the $24,000 part-time annual salary.
    "There's no shortage of candidates," Woolley declared.
    Moreover, he said, if the change is made, "We don't know if we can get someone for $24,000."
    Councilman Monty Jordan noted that in the last five elections for city attorney, it was a contested race only twice.
    Magdits asked what would happen if no candidates filed. Butz said the council would appoint someone to serve until the next election.
    And that wrapped up the discussion.
    In the vote, only Councilman Tony Bahr voted against dropping further consideration of the ordinance.
    Just two weeks ago, all but two council members voted to ask Butz to bring to Monday's meeting a draft ordinance to make the job appointive. Those two were Woolley and Councilman Jonathan Hines. The council gave two weeks to the voters to submit comments.
    Voters are scarce in Rolla, especially voters for the office of city attorney. In April 2012, the last election for the city attorney, just 1,294 votes were cast in the city for that office. Incumbent Robert J. Stoltz received 639 votes, Brendan J. Fox received 553, Dean Matthews received 100 and write-in candidates received two.
    Countywide, only 2,626 of the 27,947 registered voters cast ballots. That was a 9.4 percent turnout, so more than 90 percent of the voters would appear to disagree that the right to vote for the city prosecutor, or any other local office, is an important right.
    Page 2 of 2 - Jenks opened the discussion of switching from elective to appointive for the office of city prosecutor at the Oct. 7 meeting noting that he is satisfied with the conduct of the current prosecutor, Fox, appointed by Jenks after Stoltz resigned to move to another state.
    Jenks, also at the Oct. 7 meeting, said the advantage of the appointive position is "we have direct influence" over who is selected for the position, rather than relying on the voters to make the choice.

        calendar