No quorum, no appointment
Saratoga Town Council meeting November 17 canceled due to lack of quorum
November 25, 2020
Saratoga’s mayoral vacancy is no closer to being filled, despite council members-elect Ben Spaulding and Creed James being given two weeks to meet with sitting members of Saratoga Town Council.
While Saratoga’s governing body was supposed to meet on November 17, and potentially appoint someone as mayor, the meeting ended up being canceled due to lack of a quorum. The announcement of the cancellation came at approximately noon the day of the meeting in an email from Saratoga Town Clerk Suzie Cox.
In addition to announcing the cancellation of the meeting, Cox wrote that all bills that were to be approved on November 17 would be moved to December 1 along with other agenda items. Mayor Pro-Tem Bob Keel, shortly thereafter, wrote that last minute work conflicts had led to him unable to attend the meeting.
This was the first meeting that Keel had been unable to attend since August 4, when he was appointed mayor pro-tem by former mayor John Zeiger.
Councilmember D’Ron Campbell added that she would be able to be in attendance in the case that the meeting needed to be publicly cancelled. Both Campbell and Councilmember Jon Nelson attended the meeting and took the roll call to determine that there was, in fact, no quorum. Spaulding, James and the Saratoga Sun were also in attendance.
The Sun asked both Nelson and Campbell why they felt it necessary to gather in the Steve Wilcoxson Saratoga Town Council Chambers and perform roll call, especially as previous incarnations of the town council in recent history had not done so. Campbell replied that, while there had been a precedent set, it was important to follow the rules of procedure as laid out in Saratoga Municipal Code.
Section 2.04.050 of the municipal code reads “At the hour appointed for the meeting of the council, or as soon thereafter as a quorum shall assemble, the members shall be called to order by the mayor and shall proceed to have the roll called and the absentees noted.”
In an email to the Sun on Wednesday morning, Nelson stated the importance of reporting to the council chambers.
“Reporting to the council chambers last night was a formality that Councilwoman Campbell and I agreed was prudent, given the short notice of cancellation,” wrote Nelson before referencing municipal code. “Many other municipalities approach this situation the same way. I have been in attendance at council meetings in Hanna, Riverside and Wamsutter when the lack of quorum is determined and the meeting is cancelled following roll call.”
Indeed, on August 11 the Hanna Town Council was unable to establish a quorum due to two council members responding to a fire outside of town and one on vacation (see “All report, no quorum” on page 8 of the August 19 Saratoga Sun). Despite the lack of quorum, department heads gave reports for those in attendance though no formal action could be taken.
“I don’t believe our appearance in the council chambers at the time of a regularly scheduled meeting was unprecedented or should be considered by anyone to be a big deal,” Nelson wrote. “Perhaps it was an unnecessary formality but we thought it was the right thing to do in accordance with the Rules of Procedure.”
Nelson also commented on the attendance of James and Spaulding despite the lack of quorum.
“I think it shows that the four of us are ready to govern together and that we take seriously our commitment to the council,” wrote Nelson.
Especially in a time of turmoil when important decisions need to be made, we are prepared to face things head on.”
With just two meetings left in the year, December 1 and December 15, it remains to be seen if an appointment to the mayoral vacancy will be made before the end of the calendar year.
The next meeting of the Saratoga Town Council will be at 7 p.m. on December 1 at Saratoga Town Hall.