This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or email@example.com.
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Council appointments: how it used to work
I’m doing some research for a story that will run later this week about whether council vacancies should be filled via popular election instead of council appointment. As I get ready to go to tonight’s open interview of the two remaining candidates for the Ward 1 seat, I thought I’d share these accounts of how three other council appointments since 1980 have been handled:
- In 1982, Weldon Bailey was appointed to replace L. Dexter Hubbard. Judging from the newspaper account, open government wasn’t a big priority:
“Following a 10-minute, closed-door session, council voted unanimously to select Bailey. No other names were placed in nomination, although others had expressed interest in the job. Bailey had not sought the position until approached by council members.
“Five other persons had expressed interest in the appointment after Hubbard resigned from the governing body last month. But before last night’s meeting, one councilman, who asked not to be named, volunteered that none of them would be chosen. Instead, he said, the choice would be someone acceptable to all members of the council.”
- In November 1992, Betty Gordon resigned from council. Apparently at that time, somebody thought the 30-day timetable laid out in the city charter wasn’t so important. From The Free Lance-Star during that process:
“Though the city charter states that the council has 30 days to appoint a replacement, the council apparently doesn’t feel bound by that. City Attorney James Pates has told the council it can go beyond that timetable without losing the authority to fill the seat.”
Nine people eventually applied to fill Gordon’s seat, but the council couldn’t agree on any one of them.
By February 1993, the council still hadn’t acted, and a city resident was threatening a lawsuit to try to force them to fill the seat. At the last minute, before the council met in closed session to try to do something, Freeman Funk, who had been the city manager from 1955 until 1978, called a councilman to say he’d be willing to serve if that would solve the impasse. It apparently did, and Funk served the remaining 17 months of Gordon’s term.
- In June 1993, Weldon Bailey resigned for health reasons. Bailey announced he would delay his resignation until the council found his successor, in an attempt to avoid putting a 30-day limit on the deliberations.
Bailey’s son, Ambrose Bailey, was the only applicant for the post, and the council appointed him unanimously in open session, with his father present. The son stepped into a term with almost a year left.