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Council outlines plans to fill vacant seat

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Following Zone 1 Councilman Nick Ibarra’s Jan. 4 resignation, Springfield City Manager Greg Burris proposed the process and an approximate timeline for filling the vacancy, with approval granted by Mayor Jim O'Neal, according to a city news release.

Ibarra was charged with a Class D felony by the Greene County prosecutor for unlawful use of a weapon after a domestic disturbance at his home Jan. 1. A court hearing has been set in March.

On Jan. 6, the city issued a news release seeking applications to fill Ibarra’s council post. Applications, which are available online at SpringfieldMo.gov or in person at the City Clerk’s office, must be submitted in person to the city clerk's office by Jan. 20, said Assistant City Clerk Anita Cotter.

On Jan. 23, City Clerk Brenda Cirtin will distribute the applications filed to City Council members, according to the city’s timeline. A meeting will then be scheduled for early February for the council to review and discuss the candidates. The field will be narrowed to between four and six finalists in advance of in-person interviews.

An interview meeting will be scheduled for mid-February. At the meeting, each candidate will be allowed up to 10 minutes to describe their qualifications and state why they feel they should be selected.

After the interviews, council will choose an individual to fill the seat for the remainder of Ibarra’s term, which ends in April 2013. The selected person will be sworn in at the following council meeting. At the end of the term, the Zone 1 seat will be filled through a general election.

As of 8:30 a.m., Cotter said the city had received applications from three individuals: Richard Bucli, a political science and business instructor at Ozarks Technical Community College; Jeff Paul, owner of Jeff's Yard & Garden; and Jeff Seifried, manager of business development at Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

To be eligible to fill the vacancy, each applicant must:
* be a qualified and registered voter of Zone 1;
* be a resident of Springfield for at least two years immediately prior to appointment;
* be a resident of Zone 1 for at least one year immediately prior to appointment;
* not be a candidate or nominee for any paid public office, with exceptions being National Guard, Naval or Military Reserve, or Notary Public roles; and
* not be employed by the city of Springfield or any of its departments, boards or agencies during or for one year after serving on council.

According to the city release, the selection process is similar to that used when Zone 3 Councilman Jerry Compton replaced Ralph Manley in May 2009. In that process, three finalists were chosen by council and were asked questions regarding constituents’ issues, economic development tools and relevant experience. In 2011, Compton was elected to a four-year term.

Ibarra, an industrial product salesman, was elected to City Council in April 2009 with 68 percent of the vote, beating incumbent Denny Whayne, according to SBJ archives.

According to a Springfield Police Department probable cause statement, Ibarra allegedly threatened to kill both himself and his wife with a loaded handgun at his Springfield home, though bullets were never fired during the Jan. 1 incident. In his resignation letter, Ibarra said he needed to step down to deal with his personal issues.[[In-content Ad]]

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