Two members of Alpena Municipal Council were removed last week during Tuesday's recall election. With that, there are two vacancies. The city now is accepting applications to temporarily fill the vacancies until a special election is held in February.
Let us suggest this option: appoint the two most recent mayors, Carol Shafto and John Gilmet. We don't know whether either would be willing, but we believe this would be the most sensible solution in the short-term - a period of only two months.
Both, obviously, have experience with city government; neither has aspirations of serving again long-term; both could help mentor current Mayor Matt Waligora. At a time when the city needs to move forward and heal, these two could be the bridge to get the community through until February's special election.
Appointing Shafto and Gilmet also makes the February election one of equal footing for any potential candidates. No doubt some who will apply for the temporary position might have hopes of using it as a way to start a term on council. We don't want to see that be the case, and instead advocate two neutral replacements who have no further interest in running, be appointed next week. In that way those who run in February for the positions do so on equal ground with their opponents.
We have no idea if either of the former mayors would serve for the short-term, but both have served Alpena extremely well in the past. It is our belief they could do so again.
We would hope that those who council appoint as temporary appointees would be the bridge that gets us to a new council - one that needs to start the healing process for the community.