ANGOLA — Steuben County Council President Rick Shipe has announced his resignation from the board because he has moved out of his District 3 jurisdiction Thursday morning.
He and wife Brenda have moved from the Hudson/Salem area to a home south of Fox Lake in rural Angola, which is in Council District 2.
“I tendered my resignation this morning for my council position due to moving out of my council district,” Shipe said in an email to his fellow council members. “It has been my honor to serve with all of you, what an amazing group of people with the county’s well-being at heart.”
Shipe’s resignation could mark more than one Steuben County Republican Party caucus to fill council vacancies in the coming weeks and months.
Shipe will be vacating the seat held for decades by John Hughes, Hudson. His daughter, Ruth Beer, is currently an at-large member of the council, serving her second term. It is possible Beer will run for her father’s seat and would be the odds-on favorite if she were in a competitive caucus.
When asked if she will run for Shipe’s vacated seat, Beer said, “there is a large chance that I will try to be caucused in to represent his area.”
However, Beer currently is on the ballot for her at-large seat. To get off the ballot, she would need to do so with the Steuben County Clerk by July 15. Technically, Steuben County Republican Central Committee Chairman Rick Michael could call for a caucus to fill Shipe’s vacancy after giving 10 days’ notice, which would allow Beer time to withdraw from the ballot.
Michael said that was possible but not necessarily practical to accomplish.
Should Beer run for the District 3 seat and win, that would mean she would vacate her at-large seat. Should that occur, Shipe would consider a run for the vacant at-large seat, he told The Herald Republican, which means if he were successful at caucus, he might only miss a month or two as a council member, which could enable him to take part in the important 2021 budget-writing sessions.
“Going forward, if a position opens up on council that I can apply for I will see what happens,” Shipe said.
Shipe was selected at caucus in 2011 to take over the District 3 seat following the death of John Hughes. Following the 2012 elections, Shipe became president of the council in 2013, even though he had only been office a little more than a year and Councilwoman Linda Hansen had the most seniority on the board. Shipe has been elected to the Council twice, in 2014 and 2018.
No matter what takes place in the coming weeks Michael has 30 days to hold a caucus to fill Shipe’s vacancy. If Beer takes the seat, another caucus would have to be held to fill her vacancy. If she can’t get off the general election ballot and would be elected to one of the three at-large seats, then she would have to resign again and another caucus would have to be held to fill her vacancy.
“There’s definitely going to be a lot of caucuses, that’s for sure,” Michael said.
Then it is possible that there will be at least two more caucuses involving moves with the Council come January.
Wil Howard, R-District 4, and Ken Shelton, R-District 2, will vacate their seats if they are elected to the Steuben County Board of Commissioners in November. Howard was unopposed in the June primary to run for the Republican nomination for the South District, which is being vacated by veteran Commissioner Ron Smith. Shelton was successful in his challenge to veteran Commissioner Jim Crowl in the Republican primary.
If both are elected — and as of now neither have general election challengers on the Democratic ticket — they will vacate their council seats in January. That would mean Michael would have to call for potentially two more caucuses to fill vacancies.
And, if Shelton were to win and the scenario with Beer taking her dad’s seat in District 3 doesn’t happen or Shipe would lose in a caucus, thus leaving him off the council, he could always run for the District 2 seat potentially being vacated by Shelton in January.
That would mean Shipe would end up with a nearly seven-month hiatus from the Council, assuming he would want the District 2 seat when, and if, it becomes available.
The next district council elections come in 2022, so if either Howard or Shelton end up with a Democratic opponent in their runs for commissioner and would lose in November, they would retain their council seats.
When it comes to the makeup of the caucuses, filling district seats only involves a handful of precinct committeemen. For an at-large seat, it would involve all precinct committeemen in the county.