Hilliard City Council has failed to select officers at its first two meetings of the year.
Council members failed to name a president or vice president at an organizational meeting Jan. 4 and a regular meeting Jan. 8. All discussion has been postponed to Jan. 22.
Every motion to name a president or vice president has resulted in a 3-3 deadlock, with Al Iosue, Kelly McGivern and Nathan Painter on one side and Tom Baker, Les Carrier and Andy Teater on the other. Councilman Joe Erb resigned in December, leaving six members until a replacement is appointed.
Law director Tracy Bradford said the city charter has no provision for tie-breaking with six members.
"There are some charters that provide for the mayor to break a tie vote for council but ours does not," she said. "And some charters provide that their council president can only vote to break a tie; ours does not provide for that either."
In addition to failing to select officers, some members challenged Bradford about whether Painter and McGivern could remain in their respective roles as president and vice president, to which they were elected to two-year terms in 2016.
Bradford said she has issued her legal opinion, and it is that Painter and McGivern should remain officers until new ones are elected. She also said the city would not consider outside legal counsel to resolve the matter, unless a lawsuit were filed.
"I made my written opinion to this body and I do not feel the need to continue to debate it," Bradford said Jan. 4 after Carrier and Teater questioned her interpretation of the city charter and suggested naming a "presiding officer" until official leaders are determined.
Carrier made a motion Jan. 4 to name Iosue as presiding officer but it was not seconded, voted upon or even withdrawn after Bradford reiterated council already had presiding officers.
Bradford said Jan. 5 that although Carrier's motion was contrary to her legal opinion, it remains the domain of City Council whether to vote on a given motion.
Carrier said Jan. 5 the charter provides for naming a presiding officer. He cited Section 2.12 of the city charter: "In the absence of the president and the vice president, the council members present shall elect a temporary presiding officer from among their own number to serve during the meeting."
Carrier, who asked a court reporter to attend the Jan. 4 meeting, said he plans to file to "compel the administration to follow the city charter."
Teater tried Carrier's tactic Jan. 8, nominating Iosue as presiding officer. However, Painter overruled the motion, citing Bradford's legal opinion from Jan. 4 that he and McGivern remain officers because the votes deadlocked, meaning the organizational meeting has not concluded and continues until such a time that officers chosen.
Carrier, who said Jan. 4 his interpretation of the charter is that the terms of Painter and McGivern ended upon the call-to-order of the organizational meeting, challenged Painter's move to overrule Teater.
Bradford, after consultation, said a vote could be taken on the question, "Shall the decision of the council president (to overrule the nomination of a presiding officer) stand as the decision of council?"
The result was another 3-3 deadlock.
The president nominations have included Iosue on Jan. 4 and Jan. 8 and Teater on Jan. 4.
Iosue said he voted against Teater because Teater, a longtime Hilliard school board member, has not gained the council-based experience necessary to serve as president.
"I'm the senior-most member of council (and) the most qualified to serve (as president)," he said.
"Andy has been president of the board of education, how is being president of City Council so different?" Carrier asked in explaining his support for Teater. "More importantly, he represents the change this community wants and deserves."
Carrier was alluding to Teater as the top vote-getter in the Republican primary in May, in which unseated incumbent Bill Uttley, and the general election in November.
Iosue said his vote not politically motivated.
In 2016, Teater, while a school board member, joined Carrier and others to help form Keep Hilliard Beautiful.
The organization backed Issue 9, which voters approved to amend the city charter to prohibit City Council from rezoning by emergency and from using tax-increment-financing agreements for residential developments or those with residential components.
Most City Council members and city leaders opposed Issue 9.
The nominations for vice president have both been for McGivern.