Does Howell City Council really need a young coal shoveler with a strong back?


Newly sworn in Howell City Council Member Jacob Schlittler apparently thinks he knows better than Howell’s voters about who should be appointed to fill Mayor Bob Ellis’ council seat.

There’s a vacancy because newly elected Mayor Bob Ellis was a city council member not up for election this cycle. When he was elected as Howell’s new mayor, his council seat became open.

Like all elected bodies, the Howell City Council follows a procedure for filling vacancies, which includes advertising that vacancy, accepting applications, and then interviewing candidates before voting on a person to fill the spot.

But a hot second after taking his oath of office at Monday’s meeting, Schlittler said he wanted to get the “ship afloat and moving” by quickly filling Ellis’ council seat.

How quickly?

Like that very minute quickly.

In WHMI’s story, Schlittler is quoted as saying that to keep Howell on track, it was important to put the right people on council, and that he thought the council needed “a young back that can shovel coal.”

Despite dissing older people with bad backs (myself included), I kind of like the dramatic way Schlittler talks. Instead of saying “put my friend on council because he’s one of my besties,” Schlittler’s words instead paint a picture of the council as a Titanic-esque ship in dire need of someone capable of the intense physical labor required to fuel it, so it stays afloat and on course to avoid the treacherous icebergs in the rough political sea.

(And is it just a strange coincidence that Schlittler used a ship metaphor during the week of the anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald?)

The person Schlittler put up for appointment?

Alex Clos, the candidate who didn’t make it past the August primary despite posting his signs around town with those of the newly elected Schlittler and Luke Wilson as a sort of implied visual slate.

I have to be honest here: I don’t know Schlittler or Wilson or Clos. Or even council member Nick Hertrich, who voted with Schlittler and Wilson in the failed motion to appoint Clos. I understand that they are all contemporaries with, what I am assuming to be young, strong backs, ready to shovel something.

That Schlittler felt it necessary to blow up the agenda in the very first moments of his very first city council meeting can be easily chalked up to the innocent exuberance of an elected newbie. And it’s something from which Schlittler can take a couple lessons: the first is that sometimes it’s good to listen and learn when you don’t know what you’re doing, and the second is that the council is supposed to represent and serve the wishes of the voters.

That said, should the council do away with standard operating procedure and make an on-the-spot appointment, it would make a whole lot more sense to appoint the person who missed being elected by something like 50 votes in November — which would be Kevin Shopshire — rather than the person who came in second to last in the 8-person primary in August.

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1 Comment

  1. In the many years that I have known Maria Stuart she has worked diligently and tirelessly to support and uplift her community. As a professional journalist she always welcomes civil discourse on all sides of an issue. Howell is fortunate to have such an advocate.

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