By Sean Gagnier
The Williamston Post Staff Writer
Williamston City Councilman Andy Simmons abruptly resigned from his position at the end of September in order to pursue his dream to compete in the Olympics. His departure leaves a vacancy on the City Council that needs to be addressed.
Councilman Simmons tendered his resignation after a City Council meeting Sept. 21. He had been requesting a leave of absence so that he could help his brother train for the world games and ready himself to try out for the Olympics. The majority of the City Council voted to not excuse Simmons’ absences and he submitted his resignation in response.
“It’s their right as the City Council to do that,” Simmons said. “There’s a lot of little intricacies that go on in politics, and you really have to be there.”
Williamston Mayor Michelle Van Wert said that she did not wish to see Simmons leave and that she voted against the motion that denied the request to excuse his absences.
“His achievement should be celebrated,” Van Wert said. “It’s unfortunate that we do have to lose him, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and he felt he needed to take it.”
Simmons said that he did not wish to put Williamston in a situation where they would have to appoint a new council member, but that he might never have this opportunity again.
“I have a lot of love for the city, but I just felt that I needed to take this chance,” Simmons said.
Williamston voters will not be able to vote for a candidate to serve the two years left on Simmons’ term because his resignation came after the Aug. 16 filing deadline. The vacancy must be filled by appointment.
An Oct. 19 deadline has been established by Williamston City Council for residents to submit their applications to be considered for appointment to the council. Council members hope to have a replacement for Simmons appointed on Oct. 24.
“I hope they find someone with younger eyes, that can take a fresh look at things and find new ways to get things done,” Simmons said
Applications are available at the Williamston City Council, 161 E. Grand River Ave., and must be submitted to City Council by 5 p.m. on Oct. 19.
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The situation surrounding City Council continues to get more confusing as time goes on. Voters will head to the polls in November to vote to fill four vacant spots on the council. Voters will have to choose between eight candidates vying for those four vacancies. If the city council appoints one of the hopefuls to Simmons’ seat on Oct. 24 and that person is subsequently voted into office, the person will have to resign one of the two seats they then occupy.