MORRIS - Former Morris mayor Carol Wilcox will be returning to city government, at least temporarily, as an interim member of the Morris City Council.
The council voted unanimously on Tuesday to appoint Wilcox, at Mayor Sheldon Giese's suggestion, to fill the seat being vacated by council member Twig Webster's resignation.
Wilcox was not one of the three Morris residents who submitted letters of interest to Giese for the open seat. All three applicants - Brian Solvie, Jim Henricks and Kevin Wohlers - indicated that may consider running for city council in November, which turned out to be a concern for the current members of the council.
"I do have some major concerns with appointing someone that's going to run for election," said Giese. "I do think that whether we want to admit it or not, I do think that we are, I guess, prescreening or endorsing a candidate - whether we say we are or not, we are, I think, if we put someone in the seat."
Council member Jeff Miller said that when he had talked to City Manager Blaine Hill last Friday, there was only one application submitted. Miller said that at that time he was comfortable appointing the one applicant, since they showed interest in serving.
"But since there are three people interested and it sounds like all three potentially are interested in running, I have no problem with us waiting or, preferably, to see if we talk to somebody that maybe has served of if we come up with somebody else," said Miller. "If we had one letter from one person, I was ready to move on that tonight."
Miller also suggested that the council could simply leave the seat open for three months and operate without making an appointment until a new city council member could take the seat after Nov. 6.
At this point, Giese responded that although the appointment will be short term, if the council declined to make an appointment he was prepared to make one himself. Giese then told the council he had spoken to Wilcox who said she would accept the appointment of it was made and did not plan to run in November.
"Given her background with the city, I think she would be a very good appointment for the position," said Giese.
Council member Bill Storck said he appreciated the suggestion about appointing Wilcox, but also "had some good words to say" about one of the applicants, Henricks, who attended Tuesday's meeting and has attended council meetings in the past.
Council member Webster said he thought it was a good idea not to endorse a candidate who was planning to run for election.
Wilcox will be sworn in at the council's meeting on August 7 and serve until the general election on November 6 when a new council member is elected to fill the remaining two years on Webster's term.
The council approved a payment of $69,671 to Breitbach Construction for work on East 8th and 9th Streets. That brings the total project cost to date to $804,689.
The council approved a memorandum of understanding with the city's public works union, the American Federal of State, County and Municipal Employees Union, Local 2022. When the union's contract was approved, a sunset clause related to how banked time is paid for was not renewed, explained City Manager Blaine Hill The MOU extends the sunset date for this clause until the end of the current contract, Dec. 31, 2014.
Hill told the council that the city has decided to hire Whitney Gramm for the city accountant position. Gramm worked as an accountant in the Fargo/Moorhead area and is originally from Hancock.