Pickerington Times-Sun

Patrick Bowen

Pickerington mayor's veto of appointment stands

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Mayor Lee Gray's veto of the appointment of Patrick Bowen to Pickerington City Council was upheld Sept. 3 after Bowen's supporters failed to generate the required five votes necessary to overturn it.

Gray had vetoed City Council's choice of Bowen Aug. 26.

Prior to that, council had approved Bowen to serve out former councilman Brian Sauer's term by a 4-0 vote on Aug. 20.

Council men Cristie Hammond and Mike Sabatino both abstained from the voting on that date, setting the table for Gray's veto.

Pickerington City Charter stipulates an appointee for a council seat garner five "yes" votes or the appointment becomes subject to the possibility of mayoral veto.

Sept. 3, City Council President Gavin Blair made a motion for a vote to overturn Gray's veto of Bowen.

City Council voted 4-0 to approve Blair's motion, however, it was not enough. Hammond voted "no" and Sabatino maintained his abstention, therefore the motion failed because of the lack of the necessary five votes.

Now it is incumbent upon Gray to appoint a Pickerington resident to fill Sauer's vacated seat, the term of which expires in 2015.

"I'm not under any specific timeline," Gray said.

"I'm not in any hurry. I haven't given it a lot of thought because I didn't know how things were going to turn out," he said.

Sauer officially resigned his post July 1 because he moved to Violet Township, making him ineligible to serve as a city councilman per a residency requirement in Pickerington's City Charter.

Sept. 3, just prior to City Council's vote, Sauer expressed frustration with the way things transpired in choosing his successor.

From a prepared statement, Sauer said he tendered his resignation May 31, but was asked by Mayor Gray to serve until July 1.

"There was difficulty finding candidates willing to fill my vacancy due to the fact if I left before July 1, the newly appointed council member would have to stand for election this fall for my remaining two years," he stated.

He said the collective goal was for him to stay on in order to obtain "a good pool of applicants" for his open seat.

Sauer stated an intensive screening process was in place to come up with the best candidate.

"Twenty-eight applicants were interviewed, of those twenty-eight, four were interviewed twice by all of the current council and lastly one was selected and voted for by four members of council," Sauer said.

Prior to the vote on Blair's motion, Councilman Chris Schweitzer said he worried about the impact of the veto on the city government's ability to "move forward."

"Depending on the decision made, this council runs the risk of being fractured," Schweitzer said.

"Grudges and conflict can replace harmony and respect," he said.

"Your decision effects thousands of people," Schweitzer warned.

His words didn't sway either Sabatino or Hammond, and with their respective abstention and "no" vote, Bowen's appointment was nixed.

After the meeting, Sauer said if he had the decision to make over again he would have "left on May 31 and be done with it. Now, it's basically turned into a political nightmare."

Gray said by vetoing the choice of Bowen he was simply exercising rights bestowed upon him by the City Charter.

"It's part of the process," Gray said.

"In this situation four people voted yes (to approve Bowen) and three people did not," Gray said.

"The (City Administration) Committee could have chosen to bring someone forward that might have had more support," he said.

Gray said once he vetoed the choice of Bowen on August 26, City Council had ample time and a long list of qualified candidates in which to choose another applicant.

"The process could have been different if council chose to make it different," Gray said.

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