Thursday October 23, 2014
Pam Mackenzie has resigned from the South Burlington City Council. The resignation came in a letter dated October 15, 2014 from Mackenzie to South Burlington City Manager Kevin Dorn, and was effective immediately.
“It is my understanding that Pam has a very attractive professional opportunity out-of-state that she has accepted. On behalf of all of our city staff I want to wish Pam the very best of luck in her future endeavors and thank her for her leadership and service to the community,” said Dorn.
Mackenzie moved to South Burlington in 2008 and was elected to the council in 2012. She was re-elected in 2014. At the first council meeting after the 2014 election, Mackenzie was made chair and she nominated Pat Nowak to be her vice chair.
Mackenzie’s most notable decisions on the council involved the controversy over the basing of the F35s at Burlington International Airport. The previous council, under the leadership of Rosanne Greco, voted against the basing, but with Mackenzie at the helm, this was reversed in a 3-2 vote. Mackenzie also led the call to allow interim zoning to expire.
In addition to her work on the council, Mackenzie was a volunteer on numerous local boards including Mercy Connections, the United Way of Chittenden County, and Vermont Public Television.
What’s Next For The Council?
The big question looming after this announcement was how to proceed until the March election. A special meeting was held October 17 to discuss the city’s charter and the process moving forward. The charter states that the council may fill the vacant seat for the four and a half months remaining until elections, or the council can remain as a four member body until March when voters will have the opportunity to elect a new council member. At the meeting each councilor expressed their opinion and they agreed to choose someone to join the council on an interim basis. Councilors concurred the interim position should be served by a former councilor or someone who has been involved on another city committee and therefore, familiar with current issues, such as budget discussions and airport litigation.
Meaghan Emery said she thought it would be a good idea to appoint someone who has no intention of running for the open seat in March since serving on the council in advance would give him/her an unfair advantage. Emery also stressed that if names are brought forth for discussion in executive session, she would prefer
all councilors agree on a candidate to interview rather than it becoming a divisive, political issue.
Acting Chair Pat Nowak reminded councilors that this set of circumstances had occurred twice in the past; in one case, a former DRB member was brought on temporarily and in another, a former councilor volunteered. Resident Bill Cimonetti was one of those individuals, and was not only appointed to fill a vacancy once, but twice! His first appointment to the council was in the early to mid 1970’s. Years later, he was once again appointed to serve an interim term when Councilor Francis X. (Frank) Murray resigned. Cimonetti took his place and then was elected and reelected, serving many years on the council. John Dinklage also served a six month interim term on the council in the early 70’s and was then elected to the position the following March.
It was agreed by all councilors that they would consider potential candidates for the open seat and bring their suggestions to the October 20 meeting along with interview questions for possible candidates. If, after executive session, a clear choice emerges to fill the seat, that individual will be contacted to determine if he/she is interested and if so, they will be interviewed by the council. However, the council may still decide to leave the seat vacant.
Nowak said, ideally, the council would find someone with,“skills, talent, integrity, fairness, and someone we all feel comfortable working with.”
If a council member is appointed to fill the vacancy, he/she will serve until the annual city meeting in March when the voters will elect a council member.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent