The City Council will begin discussions next week on whether to appoint someone from within the council or from elsewhere to serve as mayor until January.

And Tuesday night, Mayor S. Blaine Willes gave council members his "personal recommendation": Appoint Councilwoman Joyce Johnston as mayor.With myriad issues facing Orem, it is wiser that a current council member be appointed to the position, he said.

"She definately has the experience (and) is up to date on things occurring," Willes said. He also pointed out that Johnson received the most votes of any council member during the past election.

"I think she is well-qualified and would serve the city well during that six-month period," Willes said.

Willes told the council Tuesday evening that he will resign July 1 to accept a position on the Utah State Tax Commission. State law prohibits tax commissioners from holding elected office.

Residents will elect a mayor in November to serve the remaining two years on Willes' term. But in the meantime the council must decide who will serve as mayor until January.

Earlier in the meeting, Stella Welsh, a former council member who ran against Willes in 1989, said "it seems unfair that the city of Orem and its citizens should be held hostage for two months," while Willes ensures his new position. She asked the council to conduct public meetings on appointing a mayor.

Willes missed the council's meeting -- and Welsh's comments -- but was informed of them upon his arrival. He denied holding Orem hostage, saying he has a "right to serve my terms and to conclude it at a time I feel appropriate."

Before leaving office Willes wants to assist the city in adopting a budget for the coming year and guide it through joining the South Utah Valley Solid Waste District.

Although an individual cannot be appointed to the mayoral position until Willes formally resigns, he advised the council to begin public discussions now about how to fill the seat. Willes said the council will "send a clear signal" to residents on how it opts to fill the position.