ATL City Council discusses appointing mayor

Citizens express interest; vote to appoint one of them results in tie

The death on July 22 of longtime Atlanta Mayor Keith Crow has been felt throughout the community as evidenced by remembrances in the weeks since. 
It has also created a vacancy in the city’s most visible public post, one the city council is now moving to fill by appointment.
According to city charter, the council has until Aug. 21 to appoint a mayor who will serve the remainder of Crow’s term, which runs through May. Mayors serve two-year terms. Whoever fills the post must have lived in the city for six months, and must be a qualified voter.
During this past Monday’s city council meeting, City Manager David Cockrell explained what the city charter requires, in terms of timing.
“You’re at liberty to do it (appoint a mayor) today, but you’re required to do it at least by the 21st,” he said.
Aug. 21 happens to be a third Monday, when the council would normally hold its second meeting of the month. But an agenda item during this past Monday’s meeting, calling on the council to discuss the vacancy and possibly take action, brought the group close to making an earlier decision.
It was discussed Monday that local insurance agent Travis Ransom and sitting councilman Chad Clements had both expressed interest in the appointment.
Clements said the cost to the city of holding an election to fill his council seat if he were appointed mayor -- because the council could not use appointment to fill a second position so soon after naming a mayor -- would keep him from seeking the mayoral appointment.
But he said he’d been in contact with former councilman Robert Steger -- who was present at Monday’s meeting -- and said he thought Steger could fill the vacancy.
Both Ransom and Steger spoke to the council about their qualifications -- after which Clements made a motion to appoint Steger mayor. But that motion stalled on a 2-2 tie vote, with Chris Collins and Arlie Kyzer voting “no” and Randy Pennington and Clements voting “yes.” Councilman Dean McDuff was not present at the meeting.
After the vote, the city manager told the council the issue would be before them again at the meeting on the 21st. “At that point in time you’re required by charter to fill the position,” he reminded them.
Prior to the vote, Steger had told the council, “I wouldn’t do any micro-managing and I wouldn’t try to run this thing. I’d sit at the meetings and run it in an orderly manner and be the public relations man.”
Ransom expressed during the meeting that if appointed, his intention would be to run for mayor in the next election, after completing the remainder of Crow’s term.
“I’m familiar with all the regional spheres of influences that we need to be engaged with as a successful community that’s at the table and not on the menu,” Ransom said. “I feel like I’m in a good position to help out, and I’m willing to serve.”
Also during Monday’s meeting:
-In a separate, earlier vote, McDuff had been named mayor pro tem -- a “back-up” position separate from the regular mayoral role -- in his absence. A mayor pro tem can fill in for a regular mayor during that person’s absence, only temporarily.
-The council voted to authorize the final pay request to Corrosion Eliminators for work at the Grandview Water Station, in the amount of $35,966.
-The council voted to accept and award HOMES Grant Program bids to lowest bidder Graco Homes in the amount of $78,000.
-The council tabled an agenda item related to a contract with Emergicon for billing for EMS transports; and an item related to discussion of vacancies on several local boards.
-A workshop was held to review options for the coming year’s budget.

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