SPRINGFIELD – The city council decided to keep the status quo and put off appointing a new mayor, leaving council president Joe Pishioneri to fill those duties. The mayor’s position has been vacant since August.

Councilors decided during the Oct. 19 meeting that with six meetings remaining in 2020 it was best to wait until the new year. They also appointed council president pro-tem Marilee Woodrow to assist him. 

Council members said they will meet again after the election to give the new Ward 3 councilor an opportunity to weigh in on the formal appointment.

 Councilor Steve Moe said he was aware that the public wouldn’t be pleased with the decision based on the opinions during the public comment section, but he said that “I assure you that we have them in mind and I have their interests at heart and will work on issues that are close to their hearts.”

The council received seven speakers from the audience, as well as emails. Many of the speakers called either for Pishioneri to step down from mayoral consideration or urged councilors to vote against making him mayor. 

Speakers brought up Pishioneri’s past as an ex-sheriff’s deputy and the fact that he is on the Brady list – which helps track police misconduct.  

“We find ourselves in a politically and socially delicate moment,” community member Kirsten Vinyeta said. “We need leadership that will commit to racial equity. To choose an interim mayor without these priorities is short-sighted.”

Another speaker, Thomas Lawrence, expressed frustration with the lack of urgency around choosing an interim mayor. He said that while he understands there’s a lot of policy and procedure, no action took place in the past five meetings he attended.

“We need to get this done. People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake,” he said. 

Council responded to the comments thanking them for participation and Pishioneri said that while “it’s not always fun” to read the emails, he takes each one to heart.