In an open letter dated Nov. 9, mayor-elect Kerry Thomson made a clarion call to Bloomington residents for them to participate in city government.
Thomson wrote to residents that her administration would “make it easy for them to participate in their government.”
She added: “That starts now—with you.”
Cited in Thomson’s letter as a path to participation is service on a board or commission, through a mayoral appointment.
She invites residents to apply for an seat on a board or commission.
Thomson includes such appointments in the decisions that she asks Hamilton to refrain from making in his remaining time in office (emphasis in original): “Such decisions would include, but not be limited to, signing new or extensions of contracts, purchasing or conveying property, and making future board and commission appointments.”
Most board and commission terms go through Dec. 31 or Jan. 1, which means several naturally-occurring vacancies will need to be filled. For example, two of the five mayoral appointments to the plan commission end on Jan. 1, 2023.
At least some of the mayor-appointed members of boards and commissions are described explicitly in local law as serving “at the pleasure” of the mayor—like members of the board of public works or the board of public safety.
Seats on those two boards do not have specified term lengths. There’s not a natural point in time for a mayor to swap out one of those board members, by choosing not to re-appoint them.
The request about appointments in Thomson’s letter to Hamilton is not confined to just those board members that are explicitly described in the law as serving “at the pleasure” of the mayor.
Under Bloomington’s local law, the routine way to handle end-of-year vacancies allows for them to be filled before the end of the year. That is, the mayor does not have to wait until the vacancy actually occurs, in order to make the appointment.
Under local law, the only barrier to making an appointment is to wait at least 15 days after a required announcement of the vacancy is given to the media. The media announcement has to come at least a month before the vacancy occurs.
That means a mid-December mayoral appointment, for a term that extends at least another year into the future, would not be prevented by the ordinary application of local law.
How many board and commission seats with mayoral appointments have upcoming vacancies at the end of the year, or on the first day of next year? By The B Square’s count, there are 13 such vacancies.
That does not include terms that run through Jan. 15 or Jan. 31. There are several boards and commissions that have terms with those end dates.
One notable board with a Jan. 15 term end date is the relatively new capital improvement board (CIB). The two mayoral appointments for the CIB end on Jan. 15, 2024. Mick Renneisen and Adam Thies were appointed by Hamilton earlier this year serve in those spots.
Factoring into the CIB’s self-selection of its officers was the expectation that it would be Kerry Thomson, and not John Hamilton, who fills the upcoming vacancies on that board. The two mayoral appointees were left out of the mix for officers, at least in part based on the idea that they might not be the same people who are appointed by Thomson.
From the city’s onBoard system, here’s a list of some fast-approaching board or commission vacancies—for terms ending from Dec. 31, 2023 through Dec. 15, 2024—that are to be filled by the mayor:
|Group||First Name||Last Name||Term Start||Term End|
|Board of Park Commissioners||Kathleen||Mills||2020-01-01||2023-12-31|
|City of Bloomington Capital Improvement (CBCI)||Sarah||Bauerle Danzman||2023-03-03||2023-12-31|
|City of Bloomington Capital Improvement (CBCI)||John||West||2023-03-03||2023-12-31|
|Historic Preservation Commission||Ernesto||Castaneda||2021-01-01||2023-12-31|
|Historic Preservation Commission||Matthew||Seddon||2021-01-01||2023-12-31|
|Historic Preservation Commission||John||Saunders||2021-01-01||2023-12-31|
|Redevelopment Commission||Sarah||Bauerle Danzman||2023-01-01||2023-12-31|
|Utilities Service Board||Jim||Sherman||2020-01-01||2023-12-31|
|Plan Commission||Karin||St. John||2020-01-07||2024-01-01|
|Capital Improvement Board (CIB)||Mick||Renneisen||2022-01-16||2024-01-15|
|Capital Improvement Board (CIB)||Adam||Thies||2022-01-16||2024-01-15|