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Tiffin City Council meeting ends with no decision on how to move forward with mayor selection




Law Director Brent Howard (left) administers the oath of office to newly-elected Tiffin City Council President Pro Tempore Steve Lepard. (Contributed Photo)

Tiffin, Ohio — A special meeting of Tiffin City Council on Thursday ended with no decision on how to move forward with the process of selecting someone to fulfill the remainder of former Mayor Aaron Montz’s unexpired term.

During the meeting, 2nd Ward Councilmember Ken Jones presented a resolution to appoint 1st Ward Councilmember Steve Lepard as president pro tempore. Council unanimously passed the resolution.

Discussion quickly moved onto the process of selecting the city’s next mayor, which was considered to be done and over with Monday after council selected then-Councilmember Zack Perkins to fulfill the vacancy. That all changed Tuesday, when Perkins abruptly resigned from council and declined the position of mayor after allegations of misconduct against Perkins were made public.

On Thursday, another candidate who was initially being considered for the position of mayor, Bryce Riggs, said that he would withdraw his name from consideration, leaving two of the initial four candidates remaining: Brian Cole and 3rd Ward Councilmember Dawn Iannantuono.

Jones and 4th Ward Councilmember Dan Perry said they wish to reopen the process of collecting a pool of candidates for the position of mayor, while Lepard and Iannantuono said they believe the process has already started and should now be limited to the two remaining candidates.

“Mr. Cole and I followed the directions, applied, and followed the procedures. We’ve already been through the question and answer period. So, in some ways, it’s not really fair to put us back through that again just because somebody might decide, ‘Oh, well maybe I will try to go for it now.’ We entered into this wanting to do the job, and we followed the rules and the procedures. It just doesn’t seem fair to go back through this again,” Iannantuono said.

At-large Councilmember Vickie Wilkins agreed with Iannantuono’s statement, but throughout the meeting appeared open to the idea of restarting the process. Jones and Perry, however, weren’t swayed.

“Based on the current events of the last week or so, there may be a very good candidate out there saying, ‘Let me get in here, let me be mayor, let me lead the city of Tiffin,'” Jones said.

Perry said he believes the process was already completed after Perkins was selected as mayor, and that a new process should be initiated to move forward.

“The process was started and was completed when we selected a mayor. So now, I believe, it’s up to us. We have to start a new process, I think, and I think we owe it to Tiffin to open it back up,” Perry said. “I get it’s very frustrating to have to go through more interviews, and I do feel for you Dawn. I get the frustration, but I really feel like it’s important to open it back up to the city.”

Councilmembers Jones and Perry made proposals to proceed with reopening the process by allowing any interested candidates to submit the required information by a particular deadline. Wilkins voted in favor of those proposed motions, while Lepard and Iannantuono voted against, causing them to fail because they did not have a majority in favor (4 votes or more).

After further discussion, no decision was made in terms of how to proceed with the mayoral selection process. Council will continue discussion during its regular council meeting at 7 p.m. Monday.

Former Mayor Aaron Montz resigned from office on July 5 to take a new position with the Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership (TSEP) as the organization’s new president and chief executive officer (CEO).

The city’s governing document, known as the municipal charter, outlines the process for selecting a new mayor. Council President Bridget Boyle was sworn-in as the city’s acting mayor the same day as Montz’s resignation. Boyle indicated that she would serve for 30 days as acting mayor, but would not seek to fulfill the remainder of Montz’s term. A process of collecting resumes and cover letters from interested candidates was started, and four candidates entered into the process by the deadline: Zack Perkins, Dawn Iannantuono, Bryce Riggs, and Brian Cole.

Following Perkins’ withdrawal, the process to select a new mayor has now returned to Tiffin City Council, which is down two members following the resignations of Perkins and Ben Gillig. Gillig previously announced that he would step down from his council seat effective July 12. Perkins’ seat will be filled by a nomination from the Seneca County Republican Party, and Gillig’s seat will be filled by the Seneca County Democratic Party.

Council has until Aug. 4, which is 30 days after Montz’s resignation, to elect a new mayor or it will be up to the presiding judge of the Seneca County Common Pleas Court to choose, according to the charter.

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