STERLING – Third Ward Alderman Bob Conklin, who has been to only four Sterling City Council meetings this year, resigned Thursday morning.
Conklin said Tuesday that he had decided not to run for the seat in the April 2 consolidated general election, citing an inconsistent work schedule at a new job.
It was hoped that Conklin could stay on a day schedule, but it kept changing, Mayor Skip Lee said.
As his absences continued to pile up, Conklin said he was told to continue doing what he was doing – get updates from the city manager and be available to assist the residents of his ward.
Lee said, though, that that arrangement was discussed much earlier in the year, and no longer applied, calling it a miscommunication.
Sterling's council members are paid $200 a month, regardless of whether they attend meetings. Conklin's attendance record caused Alderman Joe Martin to approach City Manager Scott Shumard about instituting a policy that guaranteed council members would be paid only for meetings they attend.
Lee, who said Tuesday that he would ask for Conklin's resignation, said Thursday that he accepted it with regret.
"During his time on the council, I found him to be progressive, open-minded, engaged, and an able representative of his ward," Lee said.
Lee will appoint someone as soon as possible to serve the remainder of Conklin's term, he said.
His first choice would be Mackenzie Hopping, the only person who has taken out paperwork to file for a run in the 3rd Ward, he said, adding that it would be beneficial for her to get some experience in case she wins the seat in April.
Prospective candidates have started circulating petitions, which they can gather until the filing period begins. Candidate paperwork must be submitted from Nov. 19 through Nov. 26. City Hall will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday on two of those days, Nov. 22 and 23.
Other council seats are up for grabs in Wards 1, 2 and 4. Incumbents Retha Elston, Christine Wilen and Joe Martin have picked up paperwork to make another run in those wards. Lee has announced he will seek a third term. Alderman Jim Wise also plans to run for mayor.
The mayor and council members serve 4-year terms. Regular council meetings are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Monday of each month.
In Sterling, if five or more candidates file for mayor or a council seat, a consolidated primary election must be held on Feb. 26.
CONSIDERING A RUN?
Petitions and filing paperwork for Sterling mayor and council can be found online at sterling-il.gov or at City Hall, 212 Third Ave. in Sterling. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call the city clerk's office at 815-632-6630 for more information.