Goshen News, Goshen, IN

September 13, 2013

Mayor vetoes deputy proposal

By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS

— GOSHEN — Goshen’s recently adopted deputy mayor position has been axed.

In an email sent late Thursday afternoon, Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman announced that he has decided to veto the ordinance establishing an unpaid deputy mayor position for the city that was approved by the City Council last Tuesday.

The announcement was down to the wire, as the mayor only had 10 days from the initial passage of the ordinance to veto the decision.

“While it is a position I asked to have established, and I still believe there are valid reasons to have one, there are incongruities that don’t register well with me,” Kauffman said of his decision. “If Council members want to over-ride my veto, it needs to be at next Tuesday’s meeting. So it will need to be added to the agenda.”

Kauffman indicated that he will be at a two-day meeting in Indianapolis during next Tuesday’s council meeting, leaving Council President Jim McKee to preside.

McKee, a republican, said he didn’t think the matter should linger on.

“I don’t want to speak for the rest (of the council) but I have no plans to do anything more with it,” said McKee of a possible over-ride. “I don’t have an appetite to go back for it at this point.”

McKee stated he was a bit surprised by the mayor’s veto because he thought the council had reached a good compromise.

To overturn a veto it would take five of the council’s seven votes.

Following his initial announcement, Kauffman provided numerous reasons for why he decided to go ahead with the veto.

Those reasons include:

• It flies in the face of common sense that Indiana statute would require that an appointed “Acting Mayor” be chosen only from among sitting council members, while Goshen’s ordinance would eliminate (most) council members from the pool of eligible appointees for a deputy mayor position.

• In early discussion, certain council members argued that a sitting council member should not be considered because the deputy mayor duties would detract from the ability to carry out council duties. But in the final analysis, that was not even mentioned when adding the council president to the pool of eligible candidates.

• It seems inconsistent that a council member with less than two years in office could be considered, but other council members with up to 23 years’ experience cannot be considered.

• It seems incongruous that a district council member, elected by several hundred voters, can be considered, but a council member elected by a few thousand voters cannot be considered.

• While a pool of all city employees plus one council member may sound like a large number of eligible appointees, it is narrow when culling to likely candidates, including department heads, the city attorney, and Board of Works members.

Kauffman stated he doesn’t believe is should be a department head.

• The establishment of a deputy mayor position should transcend current personalities. It was admitted both during a public meeting and outside the meeting that construct of the ordinance is such that one particular person can’t be appointed, that person being Councilman at-large Jeremy Stutsman. Had Jeremy been the Council President, that position wouldn’t have been added to the pool of eligible candidates. It’s highly likely the ordinance would be amended in the future to broaden choices if the political makeup of council and/or mayor’s office were different.

Kauffman also stated that by being elected mayor, the people of Goshen showed trust in him and trust he’d make the best decisions for Goshen. He believes that should extend to naming a deputy mayor.

In concluding his announcement, Kauffman noted one of his primary reasons for initially seeking the deputy mayor position was so the mayor would not need to announce publicly every time he expected to be out of contact.

Kauffman stated it appears such a requirement may in fact not be set in stone and that the legal department researched the statute and couldn’t find that requirement.