By Jennifer Eisenbart

Staff Writer

While Mayor Bob Miller doesn’t think the decision by two city aldermen not to seek office again will significantly affect the City Council, change may soon be coming anyhow.

Aldermen Jeff Fischer and Jim Prailes formally declared last week that they would not seek re-election, meaning seats from the second and fourth districts in the city may remain open if no one steps forward with nomination papers prior to Tuesday’s deadline.

That leaves Miller and Aldermen Tom Vos (Third District) and Edward Johnson (First District) as the remaining City Council incumbents who intend to seek re-election. However, by Thursday several citizens took out nomination papers and expressed interest in possibly running for the open seats.

Miller said Wednesday that while two will be leaving, the council seems to be like-minded at the moment.

“I don’t think it’ll change the makeup of the council at all,” Miller said. “The aldermen that are there now are all on the same wavelength – in terms of making sure this city is in the best shape it can be.

“I don’t see a couple of new faces being on board changing that mentality.”

However, Miller did acknowledge that he’s thought through another possible change – one of trimming the City Council in size.

Miller said he’s considered a proposal to reduce the size of the council, possibly to one alderman per district and two at-large aldermen, for example. He added that he also is looking at the idea of four aldermen.

He said the reduction in council members would reduce city expenses, although not by what he said would be a significant amount.

Each alderman is paid $300 a month, so there would be some savings.

“Is there a significant savings, and if doing that, are we still an effective council?” Miller questioned. Among other concerns is the possibility of not having a quorum to conduct council votes – which has become an issue sometimes when aldermen are absent or abstain from voting.

As far as a timeline for making any decision, Miller said he wasn’t sure.

“I’m not sure I’m convinced one way or the other,” Miller said.

Prailes confirmed his decision not to seek re-election on Wednesday, saying he didn’t even know whether he’d be living in the district he represents for much longer.

“For one thing, I can’t guarantee I’ll be in the district the next two years,” said Prailes, who added that he had put his house on the market and that he was ready to move on.

“I pretty much enjoyed my time there and (was) happy to do what I could do,” he said. “It was a very learning experience, that’s for sure.”

He did say he expected someone to run for the open seat.

“I would imagine that someone is taking papers out,” Prailes said. “Hopefully, somebody will step up.”

Fischer could not be reached for comment.


Want to run?

City residents who are interested in seeking any of the five City Council seats that will appear on the spring ballot have until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3, to file nomination papers. Information on aldermanic districts and the nomination process is available from City Clerk Beverly Gill at City Hall, 300 N. Pine Street. Nomination papers are also available on the city’s website. The spring election is scheduled for April 3. A primary, if needed, will be Feb. 21. A primary is scheduled if more than two candidates file for each open position.