Corey Curnyn was appointed as the mayor pro tem for the City of Denison on Tuesday following an examination of city and state code.
Mayor Pam Soseman asked for the council’s vote of approval for her recommendation to appoint Curnyn. However, Councilwoman Jessica Garcia said she did not believe the council had the authority to vote on the mayor’s appointment of mayor pro tem based on her previous reading of the code.
Councilman Dustin Logan added that his reading of the code is that the mayor makes the appointment and it does not need to be approved by the majority of council vote.
Garcia turned to her smart phone to look up the section of code to confirm what it says.
Chapter 16 of city code centers on the position of mayor pro tem. The first item in the chapter (16.01) simply states, “The Mayor shall appoint a member of the Council as Mayor Pro Tem, who shall serve as vice president of the Council.”
City code lists a reference to Sec. 372.14 of the Iowa Code on this point, which describes and duties and authority of the mayor and mayor pro tem but does not include any language about how a mayor pro tem is appointed.
Logan read aloud the section of city code cited above and said, “And with my belief after reading that, that basically the council doesn’t have any authority to really vote on that matter, as most things that require that specify a majority vote is required.”
“I don’t know that it’s something we need to make a motion on and have a second on,” added Garcia. “Pam (Soseman) would make an appointment and go forward from there.”
Soseman asked if the matter had to be revisited at the next meeting but was told by City Clerk Lisa Koch that she could make the appointment that night.
After the appointment was made, Councilman John Granzen, who was attending the meeting via telephone, said, “I know it’s your choice, but I will sit here and tell everybody up front that I totally disagree with it, but it is your choice.”
Soseman responded, “Yes, and it’s my choice, John. League of Cities (Iowa League of Cities) does recommend that you go with the longest standing city council person, and I believe Corey is the longest standing city council person so that is who my choice is going to be.”
Garcia raised the scenario that if Curnyn chooses not to run for re-election, then the mayor would have to appoint a new mayor pro tem at the beginning of 2022.
“That’s a good point to bring up,” added Logan. “When these ordinances are agreed upon, it’s for a position not for a person. You have to think long term, not specific to this person or that person.”
The previous mayor pro tem was David Loeschen who resigned from the city council effective May 1 as he was moving from the community.