Worrell appointed new mayor
by Rick DeClue · News · March 22, 2013

The West Branch City Council on Monday appointed council member Mark Worrell the city’s new mayor to replace the late Don Kessler.

Worrell will serve until a new mayor is seated after the November elections.

The council voted 4-0 on the appointment, with Worrell abstaining. The appointment came after all other voting items on the short agenda.

The action taken Monday, along with the announcement by Dan O’Neil that the April 1 council meeting will be his last, means the council must plan to fill two more seats.

City attorney Kevin Olson said those seats will need to be filled within 40 days. The city can fill the positions by appointment or have a special election. All three positions will extend until January 2014, when those elected in November will be seated.

Worrell said he had conversations with two potential appointees, Bobby Sexton and Dick Stoolman, who are interested in the open council seats.

Sexton is a former council member who was originally appointed to his seat before winning election for a two-year unexpired term that ended in 2011.

Stoolman has been a long-time observer at council meetings, along with his duties as fire administrator and a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission. If appointed to the city council, he will have to step down from the P&Z, leaving an opening in that group.

Olson said that anyone interested can put their name in for the open council seats with a petition signed by at least 60 residents.

Worrell said he was prepared to recommend Sexton and Stoolman to the council, perhaps at its April 1 meeting.

He said he believed that their experience in working with the city was a key consideration in filling the seats until November, when the two seats plus Jim Oaks’ seat all come up for election.

Worrell also noted that a special election now would cost the city money, and that it would take until July to complete the process, including advertising and meeting all necessary requirements. He said that would not leave much time between then and November, when they would have to run again.

As for what November means to Worrell, he said he would be interested in running for a full term as mayor. He is in his 18th year on the council.

“At one time, I had thought about spending maybe 20 years on council, then running for county supervisor,” Worrell said. “But I can’t see getting out of city politics. I’m seeing some of the things I dealt with in my first term as a council member finally happening. They’re coming to fruition.”

Worrell stepped forward and volunteered to fill out the current term. Before doing so he said his first call for support was to Council member and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Oaks.

Oaks said that he did not have an interest in the mayor’s position. He values his vote on the council even if he is only one of five council members. He said he had originally been asked to run for council by a group of citizens, mostly seniors. As Mayor Pro Tem he can continue to vote on issues, “not that I foresee anything major coming down the road in the next nine months.”

Oaks said he respects Worrell’s experience and what he’s done in his years on the council. He also agreed with Worrell that this can be good for the city as far as timing and providing continuity until November.

Council member Jordan Ellyson was enthusiastic in her support of Worrell.

“Mark has so much experience. I hope he’ll have time to prove to people that he can be the mayor that I think he can be,” she said, “filling Mayor Kessler’s shoes is a big job, but I think Mark can do it.”

O’Neil is also thinks Worrell is a good choice. He will, however, not be a part of it. With a closing scheduled for April 1, O’Neil will be moving to Solon. His last major initiative, the Safe Routes to School grant application is in the state’s hands, with a decision due by June 1.

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