Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Provo City Council Signals Intent re: Mayoral Appointment

With John Curtis leading in the polls covering the vacant Third Congressional District, Provo City Council today considered its options should he win and need to resign his position to be seated in the US House of Representatives before his term of office ends December 31. Congressional rules do not allow a member to hold two offices simultaneously. To address the possibility, the City Council today adopted the following intent statement:

Interim Mayor Appointment Intent Statement

If a vacancy occurs in the office of mayor prior to the end of the year, the Provo Municipal Council will follow the procedure outlined in Utah § 20A-1-510 to fill that vacancy.  It is anticipated that, if necessary, the appointment would occur at the Council meeting on December 5th.  Public notice of that meeting would therefore need to be given no later than November 21st, the same day the Board of Canvassers meets to certify the election result.

The Council recognizes that this midterm vacancy situation is different from many others in that by December 5th, certified results will already exist for the election held on November 7th, by which the citizens of Provo will have selected a duly elected mayor to take office on January 1st.  While the appointment process will follow State and City law, it is the sense of the Council at this time that the most appropriate course of action will likely be to appoint the mayor-elect to serve as interim mayor until the end of the year.

Utah § 20A-1-510, addresses midterm vacancies by empowering the Council to appoint a registered voter who meets the qualifications for the office and establishes a procedure for making the appointment. That procedure includes two weeks public notice that the Council will meet to interview and select a qualified person to fill the vacant position. Those qualifications include being a registered voter whose principal residence is and has been for the past 12 consecutive months in Provo, and that the person is not legally barred from holding office. It also states how a person applies to be considered and how selection by the Council is to be done.

The language of the State Code suggests that legislators contemplated a vacancy that occurs before an election and not because of an election. However, the Office of the Lt. Governor, which is responsible for elections in Utah, confirms that no other process exists applicable to this situation.

Provo City Code §2.10.080 also applies. It requires the Council within 30 days to appoint a resident of the City who is qualified to be elected mayor. It also provides for continuity in the Office of Mayor by authorizing the Council Chair, while continuing to serve as member of Council, to act as mayor until a successor mayor is appointed.

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