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Questions Raised About Joplin Council's Process To Fill Vacant S - KOAM TV 7

Questions Raised About Joplin Council's Process To Fill Vacant Seat

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Joplin, MO -

     Joplin's City Council continues to take applications to fill the seat left vacant by Joshua Bard.
     It's following a process established by the city charter.
     But not everyone thinks it's the right way to go.
Ron Burch, Concerned Citizen: "That open application process in effect bypasses the will of the voters and it bypasses the democratic process to where they actually get to hand select a member of the community to serve."
Ron Burch is worried about the council's ability to pick any qualified applicant to fill the vacant seat on council.
Burch: "In issues like this, where something has happened this close to an election, that prompts somebody to have to resign, for them to hand select a member from the community on their own volition without voter input is outrageous to me, honestly.'
The section of the city charter that handles these situations - was adopted in 1954.
It hasn't been changed since - but for good reason.
Sam Anselm, Joplin City Manager: "I would say midterm vacancies on city council...don't happen very often."
Anselm says the most recent issues - were 2007, and 2015, in both instances, the council members had actually served a large portion of their term.
Burch: "I feel what's in the charter is better suited to that situation, actually midterm, instead of right after the election, I think it's better suited, but I still don't see it as democratic."
Anselm says the city is limited in options.
Anselm: "While I understand Mr. Burch's concerns and comments, and I'm not saying they're wrong, but that's not the process we have in place, again, we're limited to what we can do by the city charter."
However, there are some options.
Anselm: "Typically about every ten years we try to have a charter review."
Additionally, Anselm says Burch can file a petition - following a series of steps, to have the charter changed.
And Burch says he's already taking his steps to get the petition started.
     That next charter review would be in the year 2023 at the latest.
     Anselm says he hopes the council will look at the candidates who ran last month...as well as all applicants equally.

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Chris Warner
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A Joplin native, Chris first started in broadcasting at age 16 at KSNF-TV in 2004..

Chris joined the KOAM team in 2017 as an Associate Producer. In April, he moved into a full-time reporter position. He spent time from 2008 to 2016 in various retail roles around the region before returning to his passion at KOAM. Chris is excited to continue telling the stories of the four states. Chris and his wife Amber live in Joplin and have three amazing children.

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