Public hearing to take place for interim council member

Published 10:15 am Wednesday, July 13, 2016

At the city council meeting on Monday night, decisions were made regarding the ward 6 vacancy, as well as who the vice mayor will be for the fiscal year. Council will hold a public hearing at its next meeting to decide on an interim member, and then will hold a special election at a future date.

Since Frank Rabil was elected Mayor of the City of Franklin, he had to resign from being the seat-holder of ward 6.

City Attorney Taylor Williams discussed with council the policy for filling a vacant seat and explained that the city’s charter and state legislation do not match up, but in his opinion, the city’s charter provision is obsolete.

“The charter provision states that if there is a vacancy on council, then the council has 60 days to fill that vacancy by the majority of the remaining members,” Williams said.

He then went on to say that the last time the charter amendment had to be utilized was in 1990. Williams then went onto to explain the state legislation policy.

“The state legislator has slowly been migrating to any vacancy in a state office is to be filled through a special election,” he continued. “This lets the people of the new district or ward decide who fills the seat.”

Two sections of the VA Code discuss filling vacancy in a state office, 24.2-226 and 24.2-228. These sections say that council has 45 days to appoint someone has an interim to the vacancy. In Franklin’s case, council has until Sunday, August 14.

Council then decided that at its next meeting, Monday, July 25, it will hold a public hearing for the selection of an interim ward 6 member.

This will be conducted very similar to the school board selection process and gives any ward 6 resident an opportunity to fill the vacancy.

If everything goes as planned, council plans to vote on a nominee at the Monday, Aug. 8, regularly scheduled meeting. If the majority vote is met, that person will take the position. If the majority vote is not met, circuit court will appoint somebody.

Whoever is selected as the interim ward 6 seat-holder will hold that position until the special election. The date for that election has not been chosen yet.

Council also discussed the vice mayor position at their meeting.

Ward 4 council member Linwood Johnson nominated Mary Hilliard, however, she declined the nomination. Councilman Benny Cheatham nominated the reappointment of Barry Burgess and councilman Greg McLemore nominated Johnson.

Council then voted, and Cheatham received the majority 4-2 vote making him the vice-mayor for the fiscal year.