QUINCY — Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore has chosen former Alderman Jared Holbrook to fill the vacancy created by the death of Tom Ernst, who died earlier this month in a one-vehicle car crash near Carthage.
A vote to confirm Holbrook's appointment is scheduled for Monday's meeting of the City Council.
Holbrook, a Republican, was elected with 74% of the vote in 2013. He served on the council as a representative of the 3rd Ward from 2013 to 2017. During his time on the City Council, Holbrook was the chairman of the Fire Aldermanic Committee and a member of the city's Aeronautics, Animal Control, Human Rights, Safety and Technology Committees.
In a statement to The Herald-Whig, Moore said he thinks Holbrook's experience on the council made him the best person to fill the vacancy. One other person was under consideration for the position, Moore said.
"Jared reached out to me and expressed an interest to serve. It made a lot of sense to have someone who the residents of the 3rd Ward had already elected to serve them and someone who would need relatively little on boarding. ... After discussing it with the members of the City Council, it was clear that they preferred someone who had experience and who they believed would be a positive addition to the working environment."
According to a memo from Moore, Holbrook, who is a commercial photographer and musician, remains active in the community, including serving on the Pastoral Council at St. Francis Solanus Catholic Church. He and his wife, Katie, have two children, Leah and Claire.
"Former Alderman Holbrook was a frequent golf partner of Alderman Ernst, and was supportive of his campaign for alderman," Moore said in the memo. "It is his desire to serve out the remaining nine months of the term in honor of their friendship and shared dedication to the residents of the ward.
"With only a few months remaining in the term, I believe Mr. Holbrook will be able to catch up to speed quickly on the issues and will be a strong advocate for the residents of the 3rd Ward."
Holbrook said that if the appointment is confirmed, he will work to get caught up to speed on all the issues facing the city, including the upcoming fiscal year's budget, the city's riverfront development initiative, the ongoing multimillion dollar infrastructure improvement program, the city's strategic plan, and the 45x30 program, which seeks to increase the population by 5,000 people by 2030.
"I really don't have a big vision for any sort of legislation to bring forward," Holbrook said. "For the first couple of months, I want to meet with Director of Administrative Services (Jeff Mays) and see where we are with regards to where the money is being spent in the ward, in the city, what kind of projects we are working on, what projects are in the hopper. I really want to get a better picture of what is going on."
Holbrook said his past experience on the council will aid him in understanding the issues the city is facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic and economic slowdown.
"The city is a very complex, living organism that has a lot of moving parts," Holbrook said. "Having those good working relationships with department heads and with the other council members I feel will really help me."
"New information comes out really quickly, but decisions take time. I think that is the biggest thing I bring to the council, the knowledge that these things take time. Sometimes people get on councils and committees and they think they are going to change the world right away, but that's not my focus. My focus is providing a sense of continuity for the city and for the residents of the 3rd Ward." Holbrook said that while he enjoyed being chairman of the Fire Aldermanic Committee, he is open to serving on any committee and thinks he has similar policy positions as Ernst, including a focus on improving citywide infrastructure.
If confirmed, Holbrook said he is unsure if he will run for a full term on the council.
"Right now, I would lean towards hoping that someone in the ward would want to step up and be an alderman," Holbrook said. "It is a lot of work, but also very fulfilling. I told the mayor that I would not make a decision about running or not. Right now, I just want to focus on getting back in there, trying to get my mind wrapped around everything that is going on and serving the residents of the 3rd Ward."