Tuesday, July 21, 2009 | 8:56 p.m.
Beyond the Sun
The Henderson City Council did a do-over tonight of its appointment of Debra March to fill the remaining two years of newly elected Mayor Andy Hafen’s former seat.
The council originally appointed March, a former Henderson planning commissioner, during a special meeting July 8.
But the use of secret ballots during the process raised questions, and after the city was notified last week that a resident had filed a complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office under the open meeting law, Henderson City Attorney Elizabeth Quillin recommended that the Council repeat the process and publicly certify its vote.
“We don’t want any of the votes from Councilwoman March to be called in question,” Quillin said.
In appointing March, city officials said the council followed a procedure provided for under Robert’s Rules of Order as well as the Henderson City Charter.
The four sitting council members each nominated two candidates from the field of 14, then each council member ranked his or her top five preferences on a secret ballot and the winner was decided using a point system.
Tonight, the council repeated the process, but announced the ballots, certified them and put them into the meeting’s record. The outcome was identical: March won the seat with 16 points, while Michael Lamoreaux and Roland Sansone tied for second with 11 points each.
March was immediately sworn in.
One resident attended the meeting to take the council to task for the way it handled the process the first time.
“I don’t have a problem with who was appointed; I have a problem with how it happened,” Henderson resident Karen Gray said. “I have a problem with secret ballots.”
Gray, who filed an Open Meeting Law complaint against the Henderson City Council last year in a separate matter, said she did not file the current complaint.
“My concerns are that the City Council still has problems with transparency,” she said.
March said she regards the Open Meeting Law complaint as a sign that the system works.
“I believe in the public process, and thank God we live in America, where people can question and challenge,” she said. “The council followed Robert’s Rules, but it’s the right of others to question that process and make sure it works well for them as the public.”