Cape Girardeau City Council to seek replacement for Kathy Swan

Sunday, November 18, 2012
Kathy Swan

Moves to replace Cape Girardeau city councilwoman Kathy Swan as she takes on a new role as a state legislator soon will be underway.

Swan, who serves Ward 6, will represent the 147th Missouri House district come January as a Republican after an uncontested primary election in August. On Friday, Swan said she would be announcing her resignation as soon as she receives word that November's general election results have been certified. Dec. 31 likely will be her last day.

Council members, in turn, will appoint a replacement to fill the vacated seat until a special election in April.

Also on that April ballot will be the city's first-ever referendum petition asking voters if a bowhunting deer program should be implemented within the city limits. An ordinance that would allow bowhunting within the city was passed by the council in July, but a group concerned with safety was able to gather enough signatures on a petition in August to suspend the ordinance. In October, the council did not vote to repeal the ordinance, so the decision of whether it should go into effect now goes before voters, as required by the city's charter.

City manager Scott Meyer said April's election could serve as a primary contest for Ward 6 depending on the number of candidates who file. More than two would necessitate an August election. Filing dates for April will be set by the council at its Dec. 3 meeting.

Swan was elected in Ward 6 in 2010. Her appointed replacement will hold the seat until the next election for that ward in April 2014.

Meyer said council members do not need to use a formal process to find an interim member, and there is no rule that dictates who they can or cannot appoint.

"If they want to go out and draft somebody, that's something they can do," he said.

Appointment eligibility requirements mandate that a person be at least 21 years old, a registered voter and a resident of Ward 6 for 90 days immediately before the date of the council seat vacancy. A vote of council members would be needed to approve an appointee.

Eligibility for elected candidates are the same, along with a petition with signatures of 50 registered voters in Ward 6 that is certifiable by the city clerk. Ward 6 covers a western and southwestern portion of the city. Main routes in the city limits included in the ward are portions of Mount Auburn Road, Interstate 55, Bloomfield Road, Siemers Drive, Silver Springs Road, William Street and parts of North Kingshighway and South Kingshighway.

Swan is aware there are several people who may seek the appointment. She said she hopes whoever is appointed -- and elected -- will stay in tune with the city's small businesses, as she believes she has done during her tenure.

"I am always concerned about the impact of what we do, and what effect it has on the city's economy and what it has on individual businesses who operate here. I wear a business hat often when making decisions on city council," she said.

No other ballot issues are scheduled for Cape Girardeau, apart from school board elections. But Meyer said that does not necessarily mean there will not be any other decisions before voters. A special use tax is one issue many municipalities are considering for April, since a Missouri Supreme Court ruling earlier this year rid them of tax revenue from some vehicle sales. Such a move would require discussion by and approval of council members.

"That's something I know has been bantered around," Meyer said.

The city's decision ultimately may hinge on if Cape Girardeau County seeks one, he said. County officials, including Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy, have said it is possible the county will do just that since it is losing approximately $250,000 in tax revenue this year as a result of the ruling.

Another issue that could go before voters is whether the city's charter should be amended to match recently changed state rules on elections.


Pertinent address:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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