The Guthrie city council denied the Mayor’s nomination for an open board seat for the Guthrie Public Library despite a 4-2 vote.
The agenda item, which drew criticism among council members for its verbiage, requested to waive the restriction of an individual serving more than two consecutive full-terms, and to allow Mayor Steve Gentling’s appointment of Kate Corbett to the board for a new three-year term through May 31, 2025.
Corbett, who is a retired librarian from Langston University and holds a Masters in Library Science, has served two full-terms, which expired on May 1. Prior to the consecutive terms, she served a partial term on the board.
She was the only applicant to apply for the current open position.
According to a City resolution, no individual is eligible to be appointed to more than two consecutive full terms to any single board or commission. However, in 2018 the council amended the resolution to allow a waiver for a third term with a super-majority vote (five votes).
City Attorney Billy Wheeler said the “intent was to keep boards operational when there were no new applicants.”
Prior to 2016, there were no term limits to boards and commissions.
City Manager Leroy Alsup pointed out to the council some of the City boards have a hard time receiving a large amount of applicants and “there are times making an exception makes sense because we sure don’t want to get into a situation to where we have a board and we can’t fill it and they can’t even meet because there’s not enough members to even have a quorum.”
Ultimately, council members Tracy Williams, Jeff Taylor, Gentling and Case voted to appoint, but falling short of the minimum five votes. James Long and Don Channel voted no. Councilman Brian Bothroyd was absent.
“It’s not anything to do with your applicant,” Channel said after the vote. “I want them to get this cleaned up so we are not doing this all the time. It needs to apply to everybody, or it needs to apply to nobody.”
Channel added, “If we waive it we are going against the whole thing that was set up for. If we don’t waive it, well then we’re being a jerk to the candidate.”
Earlier in the discussion, Long added, “change is necessary” when it comes to term limits on boards and commissions.
Taylor, Case, Gentling and Channel agreed more dialogue needs to happen on the topic and that Corbett may be considered for the same position after further discussion.