Milford’s City Council election ended Tuesday before it ever began.
When Tuesday’s 4:30 p.m. deadline for city residents to file their candidacy arrived, only one candidate had filed to run for each of the four seats up for election this year.
As a result, the April 27 election will be cancelled and each candidate – including three incumbents and newcomer Bryan Shupe – will automatically assume a seat on city council in May, according to City Clerk Terri Hudson.
“It’s pretty rare,” Hudson said of the lack of challengers. “I think the last time we didn’t have to have an election was 2005 and prior to that it happened in 1997.”
Hudson said last year’s election cost the city $6,300 in advertising and personnel costs.
Shupe filed to run for the Ward One council seat currently held by incumbent Steve Johnson, who opted not to seek a third term. He and the incumbent councilmen will be sworn into office May 6.
“I am honored to have this opportunity to serve the people of Milford and will work with them to ensure a successful future for our town,” the 28-year-old editor-in-chief of the online news site Milford Live said Tuesday via email. “My plans for the next several months will not change due to the fact that I will not have to run a formal campaign. I will be meeting with community members of Ward One and the city of Milford on a daily basis to talk about the upcoming legislative session to understand what they perceive to be the challenges and opportunities we face as residents of Milford moving forward.”
Johnson, who was first elected to city council in 2009, said he opted against seeking another term after speaking to Shupe about his desire to seek the seat.
“Since I have always supported youth and young adults taking leadership roles in the community, it would have been a contradiction of my beliefs to block his opportunity to serve the community,” Johnson said via email. “The council has grown into a unified, focused group looking into the future for Milford’s needs. Bryan Shupe will be a great part of the process.”
The remaining three seats that had been up for election this year will be filled by incumbents, including Ward Two Councilman Dirk Gleysteen, who will begin a second term; Ward Three Councilman Douglas Morrow, who was first elected in 1989; and Ward Four Councilman James Starling, who first took office in 1999.
“I guess the public is satisfied with what they have and must think we’re doing a good job,” Starling said when asked why he thought no one filed to run against him or the other two incumbents. “You have to be dedicated and you have to work. Maybe the public comes in and sees what we do and says, ‘I don’t want to do that twice a week.’”
Starling said his goals for the coming two-year term – his seventh – include securing a new headquarters for the Milford Police Department, addressing homelessness in the city and working to develop more activities for young people.
Morrow said he also plans to work on acquiring a new police station, as well as helping to develop further economic growth in the city.
“I’m proud to be able to represent the citizens of the Third Ward for another two years,” he said. “I think my fellow Ward Three Councilman, Owen Brooks, and I work well together to serve the residents and I plan to continue that cooperation.”
Gleysteen could not be reached for comment.
Milford City Council is made up of eight seats, with two seats representing each of the city’s four wards. Council’s two-year terms are staggered so half of the members are up for election each year.