WOOD RIVER - Wood River City council member Frank Akers was named as Fred Ufert's successor in a special session on Thursday and has accepted the post of mayor.
Council member Scott Miner nominated Akers for the position and the motion was seconded by Sharon Kadell. The vote was unanimous among council members to appoint Akers.
"Frank Akers has been a public servant in Wood River for decades," Miner said. "He has served on the school board, commissions, city council and Operation Blessing. He loves this city and will follow in Mayor Ufert's footsteps well. He will lead this city into the future."
Akers accepted the position with a heavy heart due to the loss of his friend and colleague and will be sworn in on the next regularly scheduled council meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, April 20.
"I would like to thank my colleagues for this honor," Akers said. "Thanks to City Manager Jim Schneider, department heads and employees for their cooperation and support."
Speaking of Mayor Ufert's efforts during his term, Akers said there has been "reflection" in the city about his accomplishments.
"There were many and these were accompanied by an unmatched passion for our city's government, its employees and its residents," Akers said. "I believe one of Mayor Ufert's accomplishments rises above all others. He was able to convince, cajole and more than occasionally push various factions to cooperate in the best interests of the city. My number one goal will be to continue a team approach."
Aker's is focused on the future in his new role and looks to his colleagues on the council to handle any challenges ahead.
"Disagreements regarding proposed policies may be healthy and often result in better solutions to problems," he said. "Once a direction is agreed upon, however, we must work together for the good of city residents. I am proud of our city and our team and look forward to working alongside our council. Our prayers and thoughts continue to be with Gale (Ufert) and the entire Ufert family."
Fred Ufert passed away on March 25 after suffering from a sudden aortic embolism.
Councilwoman Cheryl Maguire held the position of mayor pro-tem in the days following Ufert's passing.
"I believe Frank (Akers) will be able to fulfill the role well in Fred's place," Gale Ufert said. "I know that Fred had a lot of faith in him and had at one point he thought that if something were to happen to him (Ufert), he would be a good candidate to follow in his shoes. Tonight's decision did catch me a little by surprise, but the council members know each other well and I think they made a wise choice."
It is Akers' plan to relinquish his seat in the city council with the intention to fill the vacant seat in the near future. No timetable has been given as to when a nomination will be announced.
"I would like to have a full council," Akers said. "Filling the vacant seat is something we will be working on in the near future. I have not talked with anyone about the position at this time."
When asked about the possibility of Anthony Roberts, who was defeated by Akers and Kadell in the election on Tuesday, filling the vacant position, Akers complimented Roberts on his campaign.
"I appreciate the campaign that Tony ran," Akers said. "His campaign was good and clean and he stayed with the issues. He obviously has an enthusiasm for the city. Seldom is anyone who lost in the most recent election appointed...again, seldom. I will talk to a variety of people about it. We would want someone who would be a good teammate, who will offer good suggestions and do their homework."
Akers was re-elected to another four-year term as a city council member on Tuesday, but will now finish Fred Ufert's term as mayor until April 2017.