The untimely death of Palo Alto County Supervisor Jerry Hofstad on Sept. 24, has created the necessity to determine how to fill the unexpired term of office for Supervisor District Two.
The Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors discussed the options during its weekly meeting on Tuesday.
Palo Alto County Auditor Carmen Moser explained the procedure, as is spelled out in the Iowa Code.
"Under the Code Chapter 69.8, vacancies on the Board of Supervisors can be filled by appointment for the remainder of the term, or by a special election," Moser explained. "If the vacancy is filled by appointment, that appointment is made by the county treasurer, county recorder and county auditor, according to the Code."
Moser went on to explain Chapter 69.14A, which spells out that an appointment must be made within 40 days after the vacancy occurs, and that the appointee must be a resident of the district in which the vacancy exists.
"If we decide to appoint a person to fill Jerry's seat, we have to publish notice that we will appoint a replacement, and then do so within 14 days of that publication," Moser explained. "Once an appointment is made, within 14 days, a petition with 98 signatures of residents of the district may be filed to request a special election to fill the vacancy."
Moser continued, "If the committee of officers decides to fill the vacancy by a special election, then the two political parties can convene and choose a candidate to appear on the ballot. Candidates may also appear on the ballot through nomination by petition, which requires 14 signatures, but there can only be one Democrat and one Republican candidate. Any other candidates for the office are nominated by petition."
According to the Auditor, a special election would tentatively be held on Nov. 19, rather than with the upcoming City Elections.
"We would not have enough time to meet election law requirements to combine the special election with the City Election," Moser noted.
"I think we need to have an election to fill that seat," observed Supervisor Linus Solberg.
Moser noted that there were 1,193 registered voters in Supervisor District Two, and the estimated cost of the special election would run between $1,500 and $2,000 to pay for ballots, poll workers and programming of the voting equipment.
"That's a lot of pressure on you three,"?Board Chair Ron Graettinger told Moser, who was joined by County Treasurer Mary Hilfiker and County Recorder Bonnie Whitney. "I think the election might be the best deal too."
"We're going to meet in a public meeting at 8 a.m. Friday, Oct. 4, here in the board room to discuss which option,"?Moser said. "The meeting is open to the public and anyone who wants to have input is more than welcome to be present."
Hofstad's term will expire Dec. 31, 2014.