Mayor Announces Resignation

UPDATE: Council has decided to take applications for the position of Mayor of Shaker Heights. All of the details and the application can be found here.

This week, Shaker Mayor Earl Leiken announced that he will resign in early April in order to become chief of staff to County Executive Armond Budish. City Council was informed as a group on Monday night, and the information was public Tuesday morning. In this completely unexpected moment of transition, I am grateful for the reassuring guidance that our city charter provides. Tested over time, the charter speaks to the overall structure of the city government. It was last updated in 1999. The article addressing the Mayor includes general details of the term of service and the powers of the office. Especially relevant at this moment is section IV, which addresses vacancy of the office.

Here are the basic steps:

1)    Mayor announces an actual date to resign, April 1, 2018;

2)    On that date, current Vice-Mayor, Anne Williams (who was elected in January of 2018) will become “Acting-Mayor”;

3)    Immediately on the same day, or anytime in the next 60 days, the council must appoint a qualified person to be Mayor with a majority vote (If council doesn’t appoint anyone, Anne Williams automatically becomes Mayor);

4)    That Mayor will serve through 12/31/2018 only;

5)    And, so there will be an election for Mayor on Nov 6, 2018… for being Mayor for the year of 2019… but wait there is more…

6)    And, finally there will be another election for Mayor on Nov 5, 2019… to be Mayor for a regular four year term 2020-2023.

A smart Council colleague quickly noticed the possibility of up to four different Mayors in two years. I think we can do better than that. By the way, if a member of council becomes (any of) the Mayors, we’ll have an open council seat to fill as well.

The charter doesn’t tell us the details of how, and we have little precedence to draw on.  But, we are deep into research to make sure that whatever process we all agree on will be transparent and thoughtful. I welcome your thoughts at this unprecedented moment. Feel free to comment here or send me an email at jjsenturia@gmail.com.

To see the full Shaker Heights City Charter, follow this link and click through to the Codified Ordinances. Look to the left for the contents navigation and near the top you’ll find the charter.