ESCANABA - The Escanaba City Council began the process of seeking a replacement for Leo Evans, who resigned his position as the city's mayor pro tem.
"A week ago I received an email from Mr. Evans indicating his desire to resign from the city council," said Mayor Marc Tall at Thursday's Escanaba City Council meeting.
In the email dated March 23 Evans wrote, "It is with deep regret that I resign my position on the city council. Due to an upcoming issue I will not be able to serve on city council. I'm sorry for this whole situation and wish you luck with the power plant. It's been a pleasure working with the whole city council and serving the public these 18 years."
Council members did not discuss the specifics of the issue referenced in the email, but noted it was not related to city business.
"I would like to point out that the 'upcoming issue' for former mayor Evans has nothing to do with his performance as a city council member. He's given 18 years of his life to this council and he's done an outstanding job," said Council Member Pat Baribeau. "I would almost like to vote no (on accepting Evans' resignation), but I know it's his desire to resign."
Tall also noted Evans' history with the city.
"Leo's worked very hard for a very long time on the city council, and we all thank him for his commitment to representing the residents of the community. He will be missed," he said.
The city charter requires vacancies be filled by appointment by the remaining council members. With 19 months remaining on Evans' term, the council opted to seek applications from interested community members.
"Considering that there's another year and a half of the term, I personally would like to suggest or see that we ask for letters from applicants with the expectation that there will be some sort of interview process depending on the number of candidates," said Council Member Ron Beauchamp.
The council set the deadline for applications at noon April 17, the day of the next regular city council meeting. Applications are to be submitted to City Clerk Bob Richards and will be distributed to the council members for review.
While this is not the first time the city has chosen to fill a vacancy by requesting applications from interested residents, this time the council has asked that a resume and cover letter be submitted with applications for Evans' seat.
"I think there was a bit of a delay the last time because we asked for letters of interest and we didn't ask for qualifications and that kind of thing," said Baribeau. "I'm wondering if we couldn't in the application process ask that they submit a resume of some kind and outline in their cover letter what their qualifications are."
The council indicated resumes would be used to help determine which residents are interviewed for the open seat, but the only requirement to serve on the council is to be a resident of the city for one year.
"I can only speak for myself but I would look for activity by an applicant somewhere within the city government, acting on a board or commission," said Tall. "That kind of information that you learn from doing that is helpful for sitting here, but each member of the council will consider the applicants individually, and will rate them for themselves, and then we will discuss."
All decisions - including which applicants to interview - will be made during open meetings.
Evans' resignation also left the position of mayor pro tem and a seat on the liquor license review board vacant. Beauchamp was appointed to both the council and board positions.
In other business, the council made a resolution accepting a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Recreation Passport Grant Program for renovations to the Ludington Park tennis and basketball courts and improving access to the pavilion and bathroom facilities. The upgrades will cost the city $14,000 - $3,000 of which has been funded by donations - and the grant will provide the city with an additional $56,000 for the project.