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Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

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Kennedy resigns seat

Colonial Beach Town Council to issue a request for letters of interest

The special meeting called on March 23 “regarding a vacancy on town council” opened with Mayor Fred Rummage reading Resolution 15-11 to accept council member's Steve Kennedy's resignation effective immediately and to make an appointment for his now vacant seat.

Kennedy took the floor and struggled with his emotions as he addressed council and the approximately 30 citizens present.

“Three weeks ago I took a leave of absence. I'm resigning my position effective today strictly for personal reasons,” Kennedy said. “This is no reflection on any member of this council.”

Kennedy summed up his feelings by saying, “I can't be distracted serving this town. When you take an oath to sit up here, you better be ready to do it.”

According to Rummage, traditionally council appoints the person with the next highest number of votes from the May 2010 council election and that person would be former council member and current planning commission member David Coombes.

 

Upon council member Karen Payne's motion to accept the resolution as written, appointing Coombes, member Gary Seeber spoke up saying “There have been appointments done in three ways. If a vacancy happens right after the election, then the person with the next highest number of votes is appointed. It's also been advertised for people to express interest.” Seeber added that it would be his “personal opinion” to advertise for interested citizens to come forward and for council to hold interviews. Seeber advised that council has not yet decided if it will move elections from a May cycle to a November cycle, which will add six months to Kennedy's remaining three-year term.

Rummage agreed with Seeber saying “There are an awful lot of people who have shown a great interest in council; to cut them out arbitrarily is a mistake.”

Payne disagreed, saying “Less than a year ago the people of the town did speak.” Council member Sparky Ridgely agreed with Payne. Outgoing member Kennedy spoke up and agreed with Payne and Ridgely saying that appointing David Coombes would result “in a seamless transaction – with no learning curve, no down time.”

After much discussion, council formally requested town attorney Andrea Erard provide a legal opinion as to what options the council has to appoint a new member, which she agreed to do at a later date. Council voted on Rummage's motion to divide the resolution, which resulted in a 4-3 split vote with Rummage, members Gary Seeber, Shane Buzby and Burkett Lyburn voting aye and Kennedy, Payne and Ridgely voting nay. Then council unanimously voted on the first part of the split resolution to accept Kennedy's resignation and deferred action on the second half of the resolution.

Council also directed town manager Val Foulds to advertise in next week's paper, for one week, a notice for citizens to send in letters of interest to fill the open seat on council.

Before closing, town resident Diane Pearson spoke up and, with Rummage's permission to allow her to offer public comment even though public comment was not on the agenda, said “We would like to see an election held and not just bump up the next person. The people have a right to speak again.”

As Kennedy exited the meeting and said “Thank you very much” to council and citizens, he received a standing ovation by many in the audience. 

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