11-16 Ottumwa City Council meeting

Councilmember Bob Meyers during an Ottumwa City Council meeting in Ottumwa, Iowa, on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021.

OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa City Council voted unanimously to both approve councilman Bob Meyers's resignation, effective Dec. 31, and to fill his upcoming vacancy through the appointment process during Tuesday's meeting at City Hall.

Meyers, who submitted his resignation Nov. 3, one day after the city-school election, has two years left on his term, and whoever fills the seat will be up for a full term in 2023.

There was an unofficial majority saying that Russ Hull, the fourth-place finisher in the election, should be the one appointed to replace Meyers, but Ashley Noreuil, who was fifth place and just 68 votes behind Hull, also could be in the running, though the application process is an open process.

Both Noreuil and Hull spoke in front of the council. Noreuil touted her government budget experience and leadership of diverse teams as positives that could benefit the council, but said the choice for council doesn't have to be based solely on the results from election night.

"I think the best question is not, 'Who's next in line?'" she said. "I think the best question is, 'Who is that fifth member, with the future council, to move Ottumwa forward?'

"Just like in a primary, you have the opportunity to change your vote," she said.

Hull said, "the information on me is out there."

"I'm not going to take a lot of time to sell myself to you," said Hull, who applied to replace Skip Stevens in August, but was passed over for Rick Johnson, who will be Ottumwa's next mayor. "I want the stress to the citizens of Ottumwa to have faith in the council. There's absolutely two viable candidates more than willing to fill a seat.

"Nothing has changed from August," he said. "I'm still more than willing to able to able fulfill any obligation to the city that is called upon for me."

Regardless of what Noreuil or Hull said, the council seemed to take a track that spending taxpayer money — a special election could exceed $10,000 — was not needed at this point.

"We're under a lot of pressure at pretty much all times to make sure we're not wasting taxpayer dollars," council member Marc Roe said. "With the election just 24 hours prior to Mr. Meyers submitting his resignation, I think it would be a great misuse of taxpayer funding to do anything other than appoint the fourth person that was certified by the City of Ottumwa election."

Meyers said he had been contemplating resigning prior to the election, but was impressed with both Noreuil and Hull.

"Either one of them will be fantastic," he said. "I regret having to do this at this time, but it's best for me. Seeing these two, it was like, 'It's OK Bob, go ahead.' They're good."

Council members Matt Dalbey and Holly Berg both said a decision needs to "reflect the will of the people."

"I would like to have both of you up here because you both bring something that we need on this council," Dalbey said. "But I think like Mark said, we are bound to do the will of the people, and I think they spoke very clearly on election night. My take is to proceed in that direction."

By state law, the notice of the pending appointment must be published, but the public would be provided an opportunity to object and request a special election through a petition.

— Chad Drury can be reached at cdrury@ottumwacourier.com, and on Twitter @ChadDrury

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