Could Mayor Brian Marl be challenged by a sitting member of Saline City Council in the Nov. 6 election?
The filing deadline -- 4 p.m., Aug. 7 -- is months away. But Councillor Christen Mitchell told friends on Facebook that she is planning to run for re-election. Mitchell’s comments gave The Saline Post reason to call around to the incumbents up for re-election in November.
They are Councillors Mitchell, Dean Girbach and Janet Dillon and Mayor Marl.
The Mayor typically announces his candidacy with a press release and/or press conference, so he wasn’t about to be reveal his intentions when he was texted Friday. Still, he did respond.
“As you know, I love being Mayor and I am intensely proud of what the city has accomplished in recent years. While it’s a bit premature, I will be releasing an unambiguous statement regarding my candidacy,” Marl said. “The community should expect such a statement in the next four to six weeks.”
The dean of City Council is Dean Girbach. At times, Marl and Girbach have battled at the dais.
Girbach was asked about his intentions.
He offered only the following.
“I will be on the ballot,” he said.
The comment leaves room for Girbach to run for re-election to council or to run for Mayor. Girbach served on city council from 1997-2003. He rejoined council in 2010 and has served ever since. Girbach has run for mayor before, challenging and losing to incumbent Mayor Gretchen Driskell.
Like the mayor, Councillor Dillon would not be pinned down by questions from The Saline Post. She responded Monday morning.
“It has been very rewarding and an honor to support the community and citizens of Saline during my two terms on Saline City Council. As I reflect on my tenure, I am contemplating in what manner I can best serve my community going forward. I will make a public announcement concerning my plans in the near future,” Dillon said.
Dillon’s remarks also leave open the possibility that she could challenge for mayor. Unlike Girbach, Dillon hasn’t battled with Marl at the council table. She has, however, questioned the mayor and been critical of decisions made by city staff.
Dillon was elected to council in 2014 and re-elected in 2016.
Which brings us to Mitchell, who was elected in 2016. Mitchell is the only incumbent who was direct about her intentions.
“I've enjoyed serving my hometown, particularly being part of a team that solves the problems we face. I've made an earnest effort to learn the ropes by attending professional development workshops and seminars,” Mitchell said. “I certainly think that I've been accessible to citizens, whether having face to face conversations or online. It would be an honour if my fellow residents decide to continue my service.”
Mitchell, too, has not been shy about questioning city staff at the council table.
In 2016, Marl endorsed Mitchell, Girbach and Dillon. Since their terms began, they have been the council members most like to question the mayor’s agenda or city staff decisions.
Of course, the mayor and council could be challenged from newcomers, too.
Nominating petitions are available at the city clerk's office. City Clerk Terri Royal said there are risks to filling the petitions too soon, however, because it's possible that a signer might move out of the city or pass away when the petitions are checked in August.
They must be signed by at least 50 citizens living in the city. Candidates must have been a resident of the city since at least Aug. 7, 2016 and must be a qualified, registered elector. City council members are paid $2,626 a year. The mayor is paid $4,532.