OREM -- The death of Orem mayor Jerry Washburn on Monday from cancer has left a number of questions for the city, including the obvious one: What happens next?
Utah law gives the city 30 days to fill the vacancy in the mayor's office. Oct. 26 would be that deadline, city recorder Donna Weaver said.
Out of respect to the mayor's memory and to the Washburn family, the process will not happen until after funeral services are held, Weaver said. The funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday in the Canyon View LDS Stake Center, 575 E. 800 North in Orem.
In similar situations in the past, people interested in filling the position have been asked to submit a letter of interest, as for a job application, Weaver said. Such a letter would outline the qualities, skills, background and experience that the applicant could bring to the office. A picture of the applicant also is requested, so members of the Orem City Council, who will select an interim mayor, have a chance to put a face with a name.
A legal notice describing the procedure and providing applicable dates will be published on Tuesday, the day after Washburn's funeral, Weaver said.
When Orem mayor Joe Nelson died in office, also of cancer, in July 1999, the filing period for the upcoming municipal election had not passed. Chris Yandow, a former councilman, was appointed to serve as interim mayor for five months, from August to December of 1999.
Yandow did not run in the November 1999 election, and Washburn was elected mayor to complete Nelson's term. Washburn went on to be re-elected to three four-year terms. There's a little more than two years left in his term.
The situation with Washburn's death is different from the one with Nelson, Weaver said, because the filing period for November's municipal election has passed. The person appointed as interim mayor could serve until January 2014, after the municipal elections in November 2013.
Former Orem mayor Stella Welsh said the city council has a tough job ahead. Depending on who is chosen to be interim mayor, a new council member also may need to be appointed.
"There's a real dilemma here," Welsh said. "I don't know what they will do. I don't envy them one little bit."
Orem also has a relatively new city manager in Bruce Chesnut, the replacement for Jim Reams, who died in September 2010, Welsh said. Washburn, as mayor, had a "very hands-on style" that will be hard to duplicate, and if there is a new city council appointment as well, matters could get interesting, she said.
For the mayor's appointment, Welsh said, the council should look for someone who is civic-minded, up to speed on current issues and dedicated.