The Hilliard Town Council meeting featured a simultaneous swearing-in ceremony for three councilmen Thursday evening.
Council President John Beasley held a bible and Town Clerk Lisa Purvis led the proceedings for an absent Mayor Floyd Vanzant.
Councilmen Lee Pickett, Kenny Sims and Jared Wollitz will begin their terms in the same roles they held in 2020, as will Beasley and Councilwoman Callie Kay Bishop.
Pickett is water and sewer commissioner, Wollitz is fire commissioner and Sims is street commissioner. Beasley is Parks and Recreation Department commissioner and Bishop serves as airpark commissioner. Sims will continue as the council’s pro-tem for another year, with Beasley again serving as council president.
During the meeting, the council voted 4-1 to approve Ordinance No. 2020-09 to amend the mayor’s authority with procurement policy which would give signing power to the council president instead, thus, turning the mayoral role into more of a ceremonial one. The new ordinance was necessary to align with the town charter, according to the council discussion.
Bishop again dissented the vote Thursday because she maintains that the item should go before the citizens and not be decided by the council.
During a Dec. 1 council meeting, Bishop asked that the town allow the citizens to decide via referendum as to whether the mayor’s role should be ceremonial. Currently, the mayor does not have a vote nor veto power.
But he can make suggestions during council meetings for the council to consider. However, he is prohibited from meeting with council representatives individually or collectively outside of workshops or council meetings.
During public input in December, Hilliard resident LeeAnne Wollitz told the council that the item should be placed on a voter referendum in the 2022 election so that citizens can decide the mayor’s role.
On Thursday, Purvis submitted notes from a June 1 workshop agenda that outlined the discussion about the mayor’s questions about veto power and other duties related to the position. During the council discussion Dec. 1, Vanzant said he couldn’t recall meeting with the council about it previously.