Park resigns city council seat

A search is underway to fill a vacancy on Warren City Council in light of Chris Park’s resignation.

“Council has 30 days to appoint a replacement,” City Manager Nancy Freenock said on Friday. “(We’re) going to be scheduling a special council meeting to take action on the PENNVEST (funding for the treatment center) and will discuss it then.”

That special meeting is scheduled for Feb. 11. The regular monthly meeting is one week later on Feb. 18. Freenock said council may take action on the vacant seat on either day.

“I believe that council is out trying to canvass to see if anyone is interested in that position,” she added, explaining that the individual who is appointed will have to run for re-election in November because there are more than 18 months remaining in Park’s term.

The city charter states, “Every person appointed to fill any such vacancy shall be entitled to hold such office for the balance of the unexpired term, so long as he shall continue to possess the qualifications pertinent to the office, except when the vacancy shall occur within eighteen (18) months after the commencement of the elective term, in which case the person appointed to fill such vacancy shall serve only until the first (1st) day of January of the first (1st) even-numbered year following his appointment. The balance of such unexpired term shall be filled by a person elected by the qualified voters of the municipality at the municipal election in the year preceding such first (1st) day of January.”

“Whoever accepts it will be coming on at a very interesting time,” Freenock said, citing pending construction at the sewage treatment plant as well as “trying to save money wherever we can” as two pressing issues.

In the unlikely event that the position is not filled within 30 days, the charter specifies, “The Court of Common Pleas shall then, upon petition of a council member or of five (5) registered voters of the municipality, fill the vacancy by the appointment of a qualified voter of the municipality, who shall hold such office for the same period as if he had been appointed by council.”

Park gave a message to those interested in the position.

“Over the years, I’ve heard countless opinions on what the city is doing right and wrong,” he said. “It is my hope that everyone who has an opinion as to where our city should be headed lets the mayor or city council know that they would like to be considered to fill the newly vacant seat on council. If council is able to fill the seat with the best choice out of dozens of applicants, I’m quite certain that I will miss city council more than city council will miss me.”