TERRE HAUTE —
Councilman Norm Loudermilk, D-3rd, was elected 7-2 Thursday night to serve as City Council president in 2013 replacing outgoing president Don Morris, D-at large.
Loudermilk was widely anticipated to step into the role after serving 2012 as the legislative body’s vice president. However, Loudermilk was opposed for the position by fellow councilman Todd Nation, D-4th. Councilman Neil Garrison, D-5th, nominated Nation for the top spot and also voted for him. However, the remainder of the council supported Loudermilk.
Speaking after Thursday night’s “sunshine” meeting, Loudermilk said he plans in 2013 to bring city department heads before the council to directly discuss city business. He also said he brings experience to the position to help the council navigate the city’s current difficult financial times.
First elected in 1995, Loudermilk is the longest-serving member of the nine-person council.
Nation, reached after the meeting, said he sought the presidency to give members of the council a choice.
“We’re not out of the woods financially, yet,” Nation said, adding that, given the difficult budget situation, having a city employee as president might not be the face the council wants to project. Loudermilk is an employee of the Terre Haute Fire Department.
Asked about that concern, Loudermilk said being a city employee will in no way affect his ability to serve as council president. He added that a new state law against municipal employees serving on legislative bodies has already mandated that he is serving his last four-year term.
City Council presidents conduct council meetings, make committee assignments and often serve as a point of contact between the council and the city administration, the news media and others.
Nation said he frankly expected more support in his bid for the presidency but believes it is important that it is noted that Loudermilk did not have unanimous support to be the “face of the council.”
Both Loudermilk and Nation said they do not believe the divided vote for the presidency will have any lasting effect on the council.
Also Thursday, the council unanimously elected one of its newest members, Amy Auler, D-1st, as council vice president.