Marion Common Council approved Martin Harker to serve as the body’s attorney for the remainder of 2020 at a special meeting Tuesday.

Phil Stephenson, who represented city council since at least 2003, resigned last month from the position to avoid conflicts of interest and retain other positions he holds as the attorney for Grant County Council, the Grant County Auditor’s Office, the Marion Municipal Airport Board of Commissioners and the towns of Fairmount and Fowlerton, according to council President Deb Cain.

Harker and Craig Persinger were the two candidates who submitted cover letters and resumes to the council, and Cain said the council considered and voted on Harker first because he submitted his materials earlier than Persinger. Council voted 7-2 to approve Harker, with members Steve Henderson and Mike Cline voting no.

Since Harker was approved, no vote was taken on Persinger.

“We are looking for representation that will guide us and direct us in a strong pathway to be able to look at things and items and agendas that the council needs to take on,” Cain said. “We just want to work hard for the city and we need somebody that will give us good counsel.”

Cain said personally, she believed Harker gave a stronger answer when asked how he would advise council as they continue to seek answers regarding the city’s Old YMCA litigation’s finances.

“Mr. Harker gave us a stronger answer on that of what his guidance would be if we ever saw ourselves in a situation that the council was not advised well or did not receive enough information to make the right decision,” she said.

Harker declined to comment to the Chronicle-Tribune on his approval as council’s new attorney.

Cain said the council attorney rate of pay will remain the same, and Harker will earn $20,000, the remaining budgeted amount for the position in 2020, over the next six months.

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