Election 9

Voting lines moved swiftly at the Oregon Town Hall on Nov. 8.

The Town of Oregon Board of Supervisors reviewed a draft ordinance for filling vacancies at its Tuesday, Jan. 6, meeting.

The board took no action on the ordinance, but appeared in favor of its contents, discussing it minimally over a Zoom meeting. The draft outlines a process for formalizing how the governing body keeps its board positions full. Supervisors directed the town’s attorney, Lawrence Buechler, to look over the draft within the next month. If Buechler doesn’t find any discrepancies in the draft’s legal language, the board is likely to put the ordinance on a future agenda for public discussion, followed by potential approval within the next few months.

Ad hoc Policy Committee chair Tim Yanacheck, along with three other members, drafted the ordinance. He told the Observer with Phil Van Kampen vacating his seat upon his move to the Village of Oregon last summer, the board filled Van Kampen’s role with a vote from the remaining four supervisors.

Yanacheck said since the public had no chance to offer public input on that decision, he offered up an initiative to allow that opportunity at the town’s September 2020 annual meeting. From there, the board assembled the Policy Committee, tasking it with recommending ways to formalize how vacancies are filled.

According to the ordinance draft, when the town clerk would be informed of a present or impending board vacancy, they would publish notice “in the places and manner prescribed by law for notices of public meetings.” The clerk would also publish the notice on the Town of Oregon website and in the Observer, the draft states.

The town would need to be informed of any vacancies on the date a supervisor submits a resignation letter, or on the date of a supervisor’s death, the draft states.

Four weeks after the notice’s publication, anyone who wishes to fill a board vacancy would submit a written application with their legal name, address and employer. The application would also include the reason why the person would like to be on the board, crime history and a brief summary of qualifications. The applicant could additionally submit written references, the draft states.

At the end of the four-week period, the board would vote on an appointment, considering all written applications, and set a public hearing where all candidates would have the opportunity to speak about themselves. Upon completion of that effort, the board would vote on who the next supervisor would be.

The only instance the ordinance would not apply, according to the draft, is when a board vacancy would occur between the first Tuesday in January and the April spring election, if that seat is up for election that year.

Yanacheck said the ordinance mirrors the system the Village of Oregon uses for filing vacancies on its board, so he doesn’t anticipate much board opposition upon further review.

Email Emilie Heidemann at emilie.heidemann@wcinet.com or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.

Emilie Heidemann joined Unified Newspaper Group in 2018, where she serves as the community and business editor for four publications, as well as a quarterly magazine. Emilie covers the Village of Oregon and Fitchburg community beat.