Local News

Borough Assembly approves special election

Last week, the community of Wrangell voted to recall 8 of its 9 hospital board members. With the votes certified on Monday, June 25th the recall is confirmed. The Wrangell Borough Assembly is now moving forward with the process to fill the vacant seats on the Medical Center’s Board. KSTK’s Charlotte Duren has the details.

Wrangell’s Borough Assembly unanimously approved for the Borough Clerk to schedule a Special Election August 21st to fill the eight vacant seats on Wrangell Medical Center’s (WMC) Board of Directors. City Attorney Bob Blasco says after careful review, this is the only option for what he calls a unique situation.

“There is no other provision under state law or Wrangell code for filling other than an assembly, councilor or school board except through the special election process. And the State Department of Law also concurred with us that it is the only choice, and from our perspective, our recommendation is to follow state law, Wrangell code, and hold a special election and that’s what fills the vacancies,” he says.

All  eight seats up for election will remain with their original term expiration dates. Three of the seats are up for re-election in October. Until then, Dorothy Hunt-Sweat is the lone member sitting on WMC’s Board of Directors. Mayor Jeremy Maxand says until the special election is held, no major decisions will be made by the hospital board.

“Not having those seats filled until the special election does not in any way hinder from the state’s perspective from licensing for Medicare reimbursement all of these things have been discussed and taken care of. Between now and the election the staff are focused on the day to day operations and there won’t be any major board decisions made, because we don’t have a quorum and because there isn’t a mechanism to fill those seats through an appointment process,” he says.

Meanwhile, Maxand says all major questions regarding hospital board activity will go to Attorney Bob Blasco.  The Borough Clerk and Borough Manager will prepare a calendar for upcoming August and October election dates. Maxand says he believes this special election will reinstate the public’s confidence in the hospital board.

“This is a really good process, what it does is removes a lot of the politics out of getting people on this board. And right now that’s a very good thing. So those interested in running for this board, you can go ahead and do that. And it isn’t one individual or the Assembly appointing people and during this time I think that’s really important,” he says.

Retired Borough Clerk Christie Jamieson will be contracting with the City to help new Clerk Kim Flores with the upcoming elections.

Along with the recall, the Assembly addressed the recent termination of former Hospital CEO Noel Selle-Rea. Selle-Rea was terminated the day after the recall during the hospital board’s final meeting while in office.

As a result of the board’s actions, The Assembly unanimously approved for the Borough Manager to advice the current acting Hospital Administrator Olinda White, stipulating that the Wrangell Medical Center no longer employ any legal counsel without the authorization of the Borough Manager or City Attorney.

The Assembly also authorized that the Borough Manager and the City Attorney review and pursue any legal options regarding the actions of the former WMC Board involving Selle-Rea’s contract and amendments to his contract as well as  actions by  individual WMC Board members  between the dates of June 20th-25th 2012.

The next regular Borough Assembly meeting is July 24th at 7 p.m. in City Hall’s Council Chambers.

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