Nick Adams

Nick Adams, a human resources specialist at Saddle Creek Logistics, takes over the seat on the Bartow City Commission vacated with the resignation of Scott Sjoblom in November. Photo by Cathy Palmer

As if to dispel accusations of playing a “shell game” with a vacant commission seat, the Bartow City Commission recently named political newcomer Nick Adams to the post vacated in November by then-mayor Scott Sjoblom.

Adams was named to the vacant seat by a balloting system that involved only three commissioners since Vice Mayor Steve Githens had applied for the Central District seat, which had a longer vacant term than the one he was elected for.  Githens had to abstain from the vote to keep things above board and within the law, according to City Attorney Sean Parker.

Sjoblom left his downtown seat to take on a higher job with the state  Health Department whose ethics commission said to stay could create a potential “conflict of interest” in the future.  He resigned at the end of November.

The city accepted applications from city residents and had five, including Githens, who sought the vacant seat.

Those applying for the job, in addition to Adams and Githens were Wes Harbin, Lisa Peterson, Laura Mills Simpson.

Adams was expected to be formally installed at the city's meeting next week.

Jennifer Daniels, a long-time Bartow resident, told the commission before the vote they were playing a “shell game” to sidestep voters, and said that if Githens took the open chair, that could also pave the way for Commissioner Billy Simpson doing the same thing to avoid campaigning when his term expires. 

“This sends a poor message to potential candidates,” she said. “The optics here are terrible, and indicates a lack of interest in the commission.”

Another resident claimed that “even though Steve Githens has two years left in his term, I would rather see an elected person in the vacant seat.” 

Sjoblom's term had two and a half years to go before he had to run for the office again.

Githens will continue to serve as an at-large commissioner and will continue in that role, even though he applied for the switch to the Central District.

“This seat belongs to the city of Bartow, and it is a pleasure to serve this city and I appreciate that the voters selected me to serve,” Githens said. 

He had earlier said he thought it was appropriate that he make the switch, because that way the city would have an elected commissioner on the board for longer than an appointed one.

Adams will be officially sworn in before the next city session on Jan. 18, a day later than the commission's normal schedule because of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday on its regular meeting day, Jan. 17.

In other business, the city is expected to schedule a workshop to discus its capital outlay projects list and the upcoming deadline to sign on to the Polk Regional Water Cooperative project to build additional well systems in both the northwest and southeast parts of the county.

No time certain was set for that workshop last week.




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