ALPENA - The field of 15 potential candidates to fill the two vacant seats on Alpena Municipal Council has been whittled down to eight. After 13 of the candidates gave presentations to the council, Mayor Matt Waligora and Councilmen Shawn Sexton and Sam Eiler made lists of their top eight choices. Three names appeared on all of the lists and will be invited back to open interviews, as will five more candidates who received two votes.
Waligora said the quality of the presentations and the people giving them made narrowing the field down more difficult. He said he expects the decisions needed to be made Thursday will be even more challenging.
"All of the candidates gave great presentations, unfortunately that makes it way harder to do what we had to do," Waligora said. "It was much more difficult to make a list of eight than what I walked in thinking that's for sure."
News Photo by Steve Schulwitz
Left to right, Councilmen Shawn Sexton, Sam Eiler and Mayor Matt Waligora listen to presentations from 15 candidates for the two vacant city council seats. The field was narrowed to eight on Tuesday and the two appointments will be determined at a special meeting on Thursday.
Eiler, who is the longest serving member on the council, said several of the presenters convinced him to give them another look on Thursday because of how solid their presentations were.
"I was impressed by the number of people and by what I had read about them and several people improved their status by what they had prepared tonight," Eiler said. "I think we have a very good pool to chose from."
Sexton said if one positive thing came out of the recall of former Councilmen Mike Nunneley and Dave Karschnick is more people are focusing on local government and wanting to play a role in it.
"On paper I was excited that we had that much interest, but once I came here and started listening to the presentations I became even more impressed," Sexton said. "Everybody was positive about our community and about what they would like to accomplish. I thought they were enthusiastic about not just being a citizen, but helping out. Some people I thought were questionable coming in I thought did a great job. I was happy with the entire pool and happy with the eight we narrowed it down to and I feel good about coming to a consensus on two folks for the seats."
The meeting on Thursday begins at 6 p.m. and each finalist will be questioned for 15 minutes from a prepared questionnaire and scored by Waligora, Sexton and Eiler. The council then may ask follow-up questions. After the interviews are complete the scores will be tallied and motions brought to the floor for a vote on the top two. A 3-0 vote is needed to have the appointments seated.Whoever is chosen will be sworn in and take their seats on the council at Monday's meeting.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689