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Last updateMon, 27 Nov 2017 12am

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Curtin’s resignation raises questions about Linda Brubaker’s status

The recent resignation of Colonial Beach Town Councilman Tim Curtin has raised questions about Councilwoman Linda Brubaker’s seat on the Town Council.

Curtin quit unexpectedly after an early morning meeting on Nov. 14. At the regular Town Council meeting later that evening, Town Attorney Andrea Erard provided a resolution to follow proper procedures to fill the vacant town council seat.


The resolution referenced both the Colonial Beach Town Charter and the Code of Virginia, concerning filling vacant council seats and directed the Town Attorney to file a Writ of Special Election within fifteen days.
According to the charter, the town must fill any vacant council seat within thirty days of the vacancy.

The town charter also states in Section 3(c), “Any vacancy in the office of mayor, councilmen or town treasurer shall be filled within thirty days, for the unexpired term, by a majority vote of the town council provided that if the term of office to be filled does not expire for two years or more after the next regular election, following such vacancy and such vacancy occurs in time to permit it, then the council shall fill such vacancy only for the period then remaining until such election, and a qualified person shall then be elected by the qualified voters and shall from and after the date of his election and qualification succeed such appointee and serve the unexpired term.”

However, the Code of Virginia provides that when a vacancy occurs in a local governing body, the remaining members of the body within 45 days of the office becoming vacant may appoint a qualified voter to fill the vacancy. It goes on to provide that “notwithstanding any charter provisions to the contrary, the person so appointed shall hold office only until the qualified voters fill the vacancy by special election pursuant to § 24.2-682 and the person so elected has qualified.”

Section 24.2-682 provides that “Notwithstanding any charter or special act to the contrary … Every special election shall be held on a Tuesday. No special election shall be held within the 55 days prior to a general or primary election. No special election shall be held on the same day as a primary election. A special election may be held on the same day as a general election.”

State Code section 24.2-226 Election to fill a vacancy provides that “The governing body … in which the vacancy occurs shall, within 15 days of the occurrence of the vacancy, petition the circuit court to issue a writ of election to fill the vacancy as set forth in Article 5 (§ 24.2-681 et seq.) of Chapter 6. Either upon receipt of the petition or on its own motion, the court shall issue the writ ordering the election promptly, which shall be no later than the next general election in November, or in May if the vacant office is regularly scheduled by law to be filled at that time, unless the vacancy occurs within 90 days of the next such general election in which event it shall be held promptly but no later than the second such general election.”

No one was available on Monday to confirm that the writ of election to fill Tim Curtin’s unexpired term has been filed with the Circuit Court.

The resolution adopted in connection with Curtin’s resignation raises the question of the status of Linda Brubaker’s appointment to council.

In January, 2013, Linda Brubaker was chosen over Cynthia Misicka and Burkett Lyburn to fill the vacant council seat left by Mike Ham, when he took office as the mayor of Colonial Beach. Ham had been appointed to the Colonial Beach Town Council in April 2011 to replace Stephen Kennedy, who resigned for personal reasons. Ham ran unopposed in November of 2011 to fill out the remainder of Kennedy’s term, which will expire in 2014. Then in January, 2013 Ham became mayor and Brubaker was appointed to fill his seat. She took over the seat on council in January of this year but no special election was scheduled in November for that seat, despite the fact that the unexpired term goes through the end of 2014.

If the town follows its usual procedure the special election for Curtin’s seat will be scheduled in November 2014, the same election at which Brubaker’s seat will be up for a vote.

Because there was no special election for Brubaker’s seat in November of this year the question is whether she is still validly serving on Town Council.

In August The Journal inquired about Brubaker’s need to run in a special election. This reporter spoke with Kristin M. Hicks, General Registrar of the Voter Registrar’s Office, who was unable to answer the question at that time and stated that she needed to conduct more research into the matter.

 

Linda Farneth

 

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