Above: Barb Bryum, Shanna Draheim and Ruth Beier (top, from left) and Mark Meadows, Aaron Stephens, and Erik Altmann (bottom, from left).
The City of East Lansing has now scheduled the next election for Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem for next Tuesday, November 21 at 6 p.m. The City had announced yesterday that election would occur tonight, but then cancelled that meeting earlier today without explanation.
The City’s latest announcement indicates that on Monday, November 20, the two candidates who won the election for City Council will be sworn in. Those are incumbent Ruth Beier and newcomer Aaron Stephens. (Susan Woods lost her bid for re-election.) Mayor Mark Meadows tells ELi that the swearing-in of Stephens and Beier will be on Monday because Stephens’ family cannot attend next Tuesday. Stephens confirmed this in an email to ELi.
The election of Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem will be put off until Tuesday, rather than happening after Monday's swearing-in, because the City Charter states: “The Council shall, at its meeting held on the Tuesday following each regular City election, elect one of its members to serve as Mayor and one to serve as Mayor Pro Tem.”
Meadows says he agreed to cancel this week’s Tuesday (November 14) meeting when staff told him “based on recent experience the vote would not be certified.”
So why was that swearing-in and election of mayor ever scheduled for today, November 13?
According to Meadows, late last week he was asked by the City Manager "if we could swear in [Beier and Stephens] on Monday. I told the City Manager, assuming [the vote] was certified, I was OK with that since the election of Aaron is a big deal and he should have the opportunity to have his family there and go out and celebrate (I was made aware that his family could not attend on the 21st).”
Meadows says, “I did not hear anything more about that until Sunday, when I received communication from the Clerk that indicated that [County Clerk] Barb [Bryum] might be able to certify on Monday. I indicated that I thought a Monday meeting had already been posted. I was up north so figured I was out of the loop. So, we scheduled the Monday meeting.”
Then, says Meadows, “This morning, the Clerk indicated that a member of the [County] board of canvassers in a conversation with the Clerk said it was unlikely that the vote would be certified before Wednesday, which lead to the cancellation of the meeting. As it turns out, the County Clerk was correct about the timing of the certification and the Board member was not.”
Meadows is referring to the fact that Byrum announced the election was certified around midday today.
Meadows also agreed with City Attorney Tom Yeadon's reading of the Charter that the vote for Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem has to happen on a Tuesday, so it could not happen today or next Monday.
Meadows concludes, “In any event the City was just trying to get the job done as soon as the vote was certified.”
As we previously reported, Beier has said she no longer wants to be Mayor Pro Tem and has no interest in the position of Mayor. Stephens told ELi he is not ready for either position.
The other three Council members have not responded to questions about whether they wish to be Mayor or Mayor Pro Tem.
The City’s most recent announcement indicates, “The special meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 21 will be followed by City Council’s regular meeting at 7 p.m. in the same location. There will be opportunities for public comment at all three meetings,” meaning Monday and Tuesday next week.
In recent history, public comment has been allowed only after the vote on who will be Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem, so citizens wishing to weigh in on the question of who should be Mayor or Mayor Pro Tem should write to Council at email@example.com. They should copy Aaron Stephens at StephensforEL@gmail.com because he is unlikely to be added to the Council address until after he is sworn-in.