By Jack Mayne

In an email released on Sunday, Feb. 2,, Des Moines Councilmember Anthony Martinelli denounced the process to find a replacement for outgoing Councilmember Vic Pennington as unreasonable for city government to make the decision in such a short time.

Pennington resigned on Jan. 23, 2020, and as we previously reported, the decision to select his replacement may happen this Thursday night, Feb. 6.

Applicants have until 4 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 3 to apply.

“The council has an incredibly important task before them — appointing an individual who will represent over 30,000 people and our beloved city,” Martinelli wrote in a news release. “It’s unreasonable that we’re being asked to make the decision based on just three-minute presentations, one question per councilmember, and just two days of reviewing resumes and application questions.”

That time frame will mean that members will not get the full list of resumes from persons applying, he said in the release.

Short time
Martinelli said Sunday that the “city leadership recently released the process that will be followed to replace” Pennington, adding that it includes three-minute presentations by applicants during the Feb. 6 council meeting, followed by one allowed question per Councilmember.

As noted by Martinelli, Councilmembers won’t receive the full list of resumes from those applying to fill the seat until Tuesday, Feb. 4, “just two days before the Feb. 6 meeting and the same day the applications will be made public.

At the meeting, Martinelli said “Councilmembers will be allowed to ask just one question of each candidate, with any follow up questions prohibited. Despite having 90 days to fill the seat, the council is expected to vote on a replacement the same night as the candidates are interviewed, giving no time for any degree of deep consideration.”

“This expediting the process in this way may benefit those who want to strengthen the council majority or quickly push through a predetermined candidate, but it’s not in the best interest of the public, and it’s not in the best interest of appointing the best possible candidate.”

Two week delay asked
Martinelli said in his Sunday news release that he seeking a two week delay on the vote for the replacement. He is encouraging city leadership to delay the vote by two weeks, to give both Councilmembers and the public “time to properly consider each of the candidates, including having an opportunity to speak with them outside of the Feb. 6 meeting.”

He said Councilmember JC Harris has also requested the vote be delayed, “albeit by one week rather than two.”

Martinelli said in his news release that he is asking that the time allotted for presentations be increased from three minutes to 10, to allow candidates a more reasonable time to make their point, and he’s asking for Councilmembers to be allowed to ask three questions of applicants rather than just one.”