Reynolds expressed support for that approach if there are a large number of candidates.
But Recchiuti said council should not vote the same night it interviews candidates and Evans later agreed.
“This is a very difficult thing for citizens to go through, to stand up there and answer questions, then either hear their names nominated or not,” said Dolan.
“People come to those meetings with their family members and they come with very high hopes. And they are nervous wrecks. They have a lot riding on it. We all know how it feels to run through an election, but it’s like an election all squeezed into one moment. They are chosen or shot down all in one evening.
“I would suggest making this a two-meeting process. It’s too much for us to absorb in one meeting.”
Reynolds also said having two meetings is a good idea.
Recchiuti called it a mini-election, with council members voting for a winner as the elected representatives of the people. “In a sense, they are campaigning that night. We should have a chance to digest that information and give it some real thought, rather than just taking a vote that night.”
Council member-elect Waldron, who was at the meeting, also supported having two meetings to select a new member.
Reynolds stressed it will be important to have all six council members present at both meetings.
Evans asked if council members want to send all candidates lists of questions before they meet with council, so they can answer them in writing before the meeting. Reynolds preferred people answering questions “on their feet” rather than having the time to come up with “safe” answers.
Reynolds also suggested the candidates might be given up to five minutes to make closing statements at the meeting where one of them will be appointed.
Replacing Maze Garden
Council members were criticized for the way they treated Lehigh University students at their Nov. 19 meeting, when they approved selling a city-owned property so an office building can be erected on the site,
Part of that property is called the Maze Garden, a community garden for 17 years near the intersection of Third and New.
Resident Peter Crownfield criticized council’s “condescending tone”
toward Lehigh students at that meeting. He said no one was trying to block the sale, only to delay it until a suitable replacement site can be found for a new community garden. He said council still needs to make sure that happens.
Resident William Sheirer said the idealism of those Lehigh students was undermined and blatantly ignored by members of council.
“You gave them a course in Cynicism 102,” said frequent council critic Stephen Antalics.
Sheirer said Donchez has said he will find another spot for the garden in the city.
Student Emily Gibbs pushed council for a timeline for when a new garden will be created, so she can plan spring plantings for children with whom she works in the Maze Garden. She asked what space she will have “and what kind of sunlight is going to be in that space.”
Student Jocelyn Providence said students want to be involved in the process of finding a site for a comparable garden.
Providence listed several features needed in a “comparable” garden:
• Soil will have to be tested to ensure it is not contaminated.
• If the soil is contaminated, building materials will be needed to
create raised beds, which would be filled with uncontaminated soil.
• A nearby water source
• A place to store tools.
• Moving or replacing a small pond at the existing garden.
• A landscaping plan.
• Transplanting or replacing some vegetation in the Maze Garden.
Breena Holland, a political science professor at Lehigh, also said people were disrespectful in criticizing students at the last council meeting.
She said not all Lehigh students “want to sit up on the hill and do a lot of drinking and have no respect for anyone and just go to the Promenade and shop. It’s a really big mistake to perpetuate any characterization of Lehigh students in that way.”
Holland said many students want to be involved in the community.
Holland joined a student in recommending that City Council create a student advisory council.