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Will Detroit City Council make appointments to fill vacant seats?

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Detroit City Council Detroit City Council

The face of Detroit City Council is changing faster than many expected.

Kwame Kenyatta has resigned. Now Gary Brown is expected to step down and take a job in the emergency manager's office. That would leave two seats empty with an election still months away.

So what should happen? We took that question to Council Member Saunteel Jenkins.

"The charter says council shall appoint, so certainly we should consider the charter," she said.

However, the charter does not explain who is qualified to be appointed or when it has to be done.

"There have been conversations about appointing current candidates. There have been conversations about appointing former council members or people who aren't either," Jenkins said.

Sheila Cockrel sat on City Council for 16 years. She said losing council members during their terms is not unusual, but this situation could get complicated.

"I think it's a different circumstance when you're in the middle of an election cycle and when you're in the middle of the first election under a brand new system. You really do have to think through. Does this give people an unfair advantage?" she said.

And does appointing new council members even make sense?

"There's the summer recess and then the winter recess, so how many actual weeks of work will there be?" Cockrel said.

"Do we want to save those dollars and wait until somebody is elected in January, or do we want to strictly follow the charter?" Jenkins said.

Regardless of what the council decides, the EM will have the final say.

"If we're going to appoint, I think it should be as soon as possible, but I think that's a decision that the whole body has to make," Jenkins said.

This situation will most likely be discussed during Tuesday's council meeting. Meanwhile, Jenkins wants the council to go back to a committee of the whole system so that quorum will not be an issue.

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