Iowa City City Council to appoint replacement for vacancy after Weiner resigns

On Tuesday night, the Iowa City City Council unanimously approved filling Councilor Janice Weiner’s upcoming vacancy by appointment rather than special election.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa Senate District 45 seat Janice Weiner and attendee Eleanor Taft watch Johnson County poll results during a Democratic watch party at Big Grove Brewery and Taproom in Iowa City on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. Weiner won the seat on Tuesday against Republican Harold Weilbrenner for Iowa Senate District 45.

Isabelle Foland, News Reporter

The Iowa City City Council will appoint a new member by January to fill Councilor Janice Weiner’s seat once she takes office for Iowa Senate District 45.

Weiner submitted her resignation on Nov. 9 after her victory in the Iowa Senate elections. Her resignation will be effective on Dec. 31 at midnight.

The council voted to appoint someone to fill the seat rather than to hold a local special election. Councilor Laura Bergus said she favored filling the vacancy by appointment because of historically low voter turnout at local special elections.

For example, the March 15 North Liberty City Council special election had a voter turnout of 1.9 percent.  

Bergus added that the time and money that has to be put into special elections are costly.

The estimated cost of a city primary and regular election is $50,000 for each, the meeting agenda stated. It would not be known at the time of the council’s decision if both of these elections would be needed. 

This estimate does not include the added cost of any satellite locations, which must be petitioned for and cost an estimated $1,500 per site.

“From an equity standpoint, I think a low-barrier application that is open to everyone, with us having the opportunity to speak with individuals who would be interested, is actually a better process for making it open to those who might be wanting and capable of serving, then having a very, very low turnout, short timeframe special election,” Bergus said.

After some discussion, the council decided the timeline for the appointment process will go as follows: 

  • The application for the position will be posted no earlier than Dec. 2.
  • Applications will be due on Jan. 3.
  • If there are more than seven applicants, the council will narrow down the candidates at a meeting on Jan. 7.
  • The final decision on who will fill the position will be made at the Jan. 10 meeting.

To maintain transparency of the applicants with the public, Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague suggested posting the candidates’ applications along with the information packet that is released every Thursday. The rest of the council agreed. 

“I’m sure people will reach out if they’re interested in being on this council,” Teague said.

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