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LaBine, Haeussler back into leadership roles in Hancock

HANCOCK — New members of the Hancock City Council were sworn in over Zoom on Wednesday evening, and mayor and mayor pro tem were selected.

“All right, if you could just raise your right hand,” City Clerk Ashley Freeman said.

Joining the council for the first time are Kurt Rickard and Rick Freeman Jr.

“I do solemnly swear,” the clerk continued, with each new council member following along, pledging the oath in turn.

Ron Blau, who ran for reelection unopposed, and John Haeussler, who ran for reelection against three opponents, were also resworn to the council.

“That I will support the Constitution of the United States,” continues the oath, “and the constitution of this state, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of city council…”

Each councilor finished the oath with the ward they were serving, or “at large” in Haeussler’s case.

Councilors Paul LaBine and Will Lytle were both nominated for mayor, and the vote for LaBine was held first. Councilor Whitney Warstler, who nominated Lytle, was the only vote against LaBine continuing in the mayor’s role.

From that point, LaBine took over running the meeting from the clerk.

“So next on the agenda will be,” LaBine continued, “I will call for nominations for mayor pro tem.”

Haeussler was nominated, and LaBine himself nominated Lytle for mayor pro tem.

The vote for Haeussler was held first. Blau, Rickard and Freeman voted in favor, and Lytle, Warstler and LaBine voted against, leaving Haeussler himself, who voted last, to make the decision.

“Wow, I get to make the choice,” Haeussler said. “Yes.”

Mayor LaBine said he was surprised at the result, and that he had been expecting it to be Lytle, who had held the position for the last year but had never been called on to act as mayor.

“But the council has spoken and that is how we will move forward,” LaBine said.

He thanked Lytle for filling the role for the previous year.

“We’re in good hands,” Lytle said. “Don’t worry too much about it.”

LaBine reminded the other council members that at the next meeting they would have to assign new representatives to several of the committees, and to consider and review the opening positions over the next week.

“We can talk about that next week,” he said.

They confirmed they would continue meeting on Zoom for at least the rest of 2020.

They’re also expecting to have finalized vote numbers at the next council meeting, which will allow them to compare voter turnout to 2016.

“I’m curious to see how that looks,” LaBine said.

Mary Babcock, the city manager, also informed the new council members of newly-elected officials training available virtually from the Michigan Municipal League.

“I did that,” said Councilor Blau. “And it was very informative.”

He said it gave good insight into the operation of the city council.

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