Walled Lake City Councilman Edmund Bennett tendered his resignation at the Tuesday, April 5 council meeting, indicating he won’t fulfill his term in office set to expire in November 2011.
The City Council has appointed Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Board Chairman William Sturgeon as Bennett’s replacement, effective immediately.
Bennett attributes his early departure to personal health reasons.
“My health isn’t that good,” he said. “I don’t want to comment further.”
Bennett was elected to council in November 2007, when he won a four-year council term.
“The city was fortunate Ed ran when he did — we needed new blood on council because it was obvious at the time the city was facing financial difficulties and it couldn’t be business as usual,” said Councilman Casey Ambrose. “I wish him (Bennett) well in light of the challenges his family is facing.”
The council was able to appoint Sturgeon immediately in accordance with the City Charter. Any vacancy which occurs 120 days before the next election must be filled within 60 days by a majority vote of the remaining council members.
“They couldn’t have found a better replacement,” Ambrose said. “Bill campaigned and listened to the residents. He sits on the DDA and understands both the DDA and city finances. It’s a good fit.”
Mayor Pro Tem Linda Ackley maintains that Sturgeon belongs on the council since he earned the confidence of the people during the 2009 election.
“He’s highly qualified and brings a lot of experience and professionalism,” she said. “He has earned the respect of the people.”
There is some uncertainty about whether Sturgeon will be able to fulfill his role as the DDA chairman, but the city attorney is in the process of checking into the query. Although Sturgeon doesn’t see himself maintaining the DDA chairman position now that he’s on City Council, if allowed, he will serve on the DDA board in some capacity.
“I will be probably step down as chairman, but probably serve as a board member or in some other capacity,” he said.
In the interim, Sturgeon said he’s excited for the opportunity to serve on the council and is honored by the appointment.
“Both the city manager and Bob Robertson called me and asked if I was interested,” Sturgeon said. “I believe I was the natural choice since I ran last time and was the fifth person with the most votes, so that was a precedence in addition to my active role on the DDA.”
Sturgeon must run for re-election on the November 2011 ballot, when Bennett’s four-year term expires, if he wants to remain on the City Council.
Council members are compensated $35 per meeting.