East Helena city council seat open again, after recently appointed member resigns

Posted at 7:57 PM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-03 21:57:57-04

EAST HELENA — A seat on the East Helena City Council is now vacant again, for the second time in less than a year.

City Councilmember Joy Bowen announced that she is stepping down after just over six months in office. Bowen told MTN she is moving closer to family, because of COVID-19 and other concerns. She thanked city staff who helped her during her time on the council, and she’s sorry to leave.

“I’m really disappointed,” Bowen said. “I really have enjoyed the opportunity, and I’ve learned a lot.”

Bowen was appointed in January to represent Ward 1, the area south of Riggs Street. The seat was open after no candidates filed to run for the position in last November’s election, and the top write-in candidate declined to serve. The story drew national attention from the Wall Street Journal, which pointed to East Helena as an example of cities that have trouble finding people to serve in local government.

East Helena Mayor James Schell praised Bowen’s work on the council.

“I really want to wish her the best,” he said. "She’s a person who’s really concerned about our community.”

Schell said the city will be accepting applications to fill the seat through Aug. 17. Candidates must live within East Helena city limits and in Ward 1. You can contact the city clerk at (406) 227-5321 for more information.

The person appointed to the council will serve through the end of 2021, when there will be a special election for the last two years of the term.

Bowen said, after her experience, she hopes other people will get involved in local government.

“Anybody can do city council, if they do the work and care,” she said.