The new mayor of Fort Madison could be in place before the end of the month.
The Fort Madison City Council has decided to appoint someone to replace former Mayor Steve Ireland, as opposed to holding a special election.
Steve Ireland, 53, passed away at Fort Madison Community Hospital last month.
City Manager Byron Smith says the appointment is expected to be made during the city council’s April 17 meeting. He says the details of the appointment process have not be laid out, but he says interested residents are encouraged to contact City Hall.
Ireland was elected to his 4th term as Mayor last November. That means he still had more than 18-months remaining in office when he passed away.
Smith says Iowa law allows the appointee to serve until the November general election when the position will appear on the ballot. He says the Iowa Legislature is considering a change that could push the date back to the next city election (November 2013).
Residents could call for a special election based on the result of the appointment. Smith says a petition with 46-signatures would have to be presented to the city within 14 days of the appointment.
Smith says Alderman At-Large Brad Randolph has expressed an interest in replacing Ireland as Mayor of Fort Madison. Randolph is serving in that capacity, at the moment, as part of his role as Mayor Pro Tem.
Fort Madison and the North Lee County Historical Society will continue to talk about a new lease for the Santa Fe Depot Complex. The current 50-year deal runs through 2040.
City Manager Byron Smith says the city is looking for the flexibility that comes with a shorter-term agreement. He says the agreement must also be amended to allow AMTRAK to relocated to the depot.
That is the primary reason for the city spending several million dollars to elevate and renovate the depot complex.
The city council has agreed to give the two sides 90-days to work on a new lease. If nothing is done during that time, the panel could vote to condemn the lease.
The decision to continue negotiations came after multiple members of the historical society addressed the council during this week’s meeting. They questioned why condemnation was even being considered so early in the talks about a new lease.
The North Lee County Historical Society’s museum is located within the complex. The collection has been temporarily relocated, though, while the depot is being renovated.