Goshen News, Goshen, IN

July 17, 2013

Goshen City Council looks at deputy mayor

By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS

— GOSHEN — A new deputy mayor position may be in the works for the city of Goshen, but there are still a few kinks to be ironed out before such a position can be established.

During a meeting of the Goshen City Council Tuesday evening, council members were presented with a potential new ordinance that would officially formalize the position of deputy mayor for the city.

Under the ordinance, the deputy mayor, who would be appointed by the mayor, would essentially serve in place of the mayor whenever he or she is absent from the county, ill, or injured.

Through the appointment, the deputy mayor would gain nearly all of the acting mayor’s powers and duties, including, but not limited to:

• Enforcing the ordinances of the city and statues of the state;

• Signing all bonds, deeds, contracts and licenses issued by the city;

• Approving or vetoing ordinances, orders and resolutions of the legislative body; and,

• Solemnizing marriages.

However, as the rules currently stand, any appointee chosen by the mayor can only be selected from the current City Council, and must be announced publicly at a Board of Public Works and Safety meeting — something current Mayor Allan Kauffman said he has a particular problem with due to safety and security concerns.

“I have never been comfortable with going to the Board of Works and saying I’m going to be out of town,” Kauffman said. “If I’m going to be out of touch, I appoint an acting mayor. This is formalizing the process. But I don’t like announcing publicly that I’m going to be gone, and my wife’s going to be home alone, etc.”

According to city attorney Larry Barkes, acceptance of the new ordinance would expand that process primarily in two ways.

The first primary change would be that the mayor would no longer be required to publicly announce a temporary vacancy of his position.

“All that has to occur is notification has to be given to the Council President and the Clerk Treasurer,” said Barkes of the new ordinance, “and that can be a regularly private announcement.”

The second big change would expand the pool of available candidates for deputy mayor to beyond just those individuals currently serving on the City Council.

It was that stipulation, however, that proved the most contentious during Tuesday’s meeting.

As written in the ordinance, that pool of candidates would be expanded to include any current city employees.

However, several city council members wondered if that should be expanded even further to include anyone currently residing within the city limits.

“As a council...should we be limiting who the mayor can make an appointment with?,” asked Councilman Jeremy Stutsman.

Others on the council went the complete opposite direction, questioning whether or not the council has the power to significantly limit the mayor’s options for selecting a deputy mayor, possibly even to one person or one city position.

Still others raised concerns over possible political issues that could arise if the mayor is given complete control over his choice of a deputy mayor.

Due to the uncertainty surrounding the particulars of the proposed ordinance and lack of a strict deadline for passage, the council eventually decided to postpone a vote on the ordinance until the council’s next meeting to allow for further discussion and clarification on the matter.