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Vacant BoS seat to be filled Nov. 22

The Westmoreland Supervisors will reconvene this Monday’s session at 7 p.m. on Nov. 22 in the A.T. Johnson auditorium for the purpose of selecting the next District 3 Supervisor. The appointee will fill the position vacated by Lynn Brownley on Oct. 28.
Brownley resigned from the elected position after pleading guilty to a felony drug charge. Sentencing will occur in January 2011.
All five Westmoreland Board of Supervisors terms expire on Dec. 31, 2011. An election will be held next November and the District 3 winner will immediately assume the duties of the District 3 position.

During this week’s session, Board of Supervisors Chairman Woody Hynson recalled three prior occasions when the supervisors were called upon to fill a vacant board position. On each occasion the four seated members encountered difficulties agreeing on the selection. On Nov. 8 Hynson tasked County Attorney Tom Bondurant with explaining the consequence of a potential deadlock.
The County Attorney advised board members that state law gives them a 45-day timeline for selecting a successor. The clock started ticking on Oct. 28, when the board accepted the outgoing District 3 Supervisor’s resignation.
Bondurant told the supervisors that if the four seated board members fail to reach an agreement in a timely manner, the county will necessarily incur the expense of a costly special election.
In the event that the board fails to fulfill the timeline dictated by statute, the Circuit Court judge will make the appointment and order the county to arrange a special election.
“A special election would cost the county a fair amount of money,” the County Attorney advised the seated members of the board.
“Your next meeting is the 45th day, so I strongly recommend that you schedule a special meeting for the purpose of going into closed session. When you come out of the closed session, you can make that appointment,” Bondurant explained.
With appointment books in hand, the four supervisors listened and Chairman Hynson immediately responded with a plan.
“We will pick a date no later than the first week in December to convene a recessed session,” Hynson told the other members of the board.
“Each of us will bring one or two names and we will try to identify the most qualified people we can think of who live in District 3. When we get together we will discuss which one a majority of us can agree on. We need to pick a date and time when all of us can meet.”
Everyone agreed to reconvene Monday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. The board will use A.T. Johnson Complex’s Social Services Department conference room for the closed session portion of that recessed meeting.
District 5 Supervisor Larry Roberson wanted to optimize any interested District 3 resident’s ability to make themselves available for the board’s consideration.
“If you aren’t going to do it, then I will,” Roberson told the other members of the board.
The District 5 Supervisor asked staff to make a box available in the County Administrator’s Office. Interested individuals are requested to place their sealed envelopes in the box.
“If you’re a registered voter and are interested in filling the position, I need to have your full name, your 911 address and a statement detailing your experience. Seal it up and place the envelope in the box in the county office building,” Roberson told residents attending the Board’s Nov. 8 proceeding.
Turning to Board colleagues, Roberson continued, “I want to get a clear idea of all those who are interested in serving on the board. The four of us can then sit down together and look at all of them together.”
The board’s other three members agreed to proceed with the District 5 Supervisor’s plan. In addition, all board members have the ability to offer candidates for the empty District 3 position.
Chairman Hynson spoke with optimism about the board’s ability to make an appropriate selection.
“I’ve talked to four people who have volunteered already,” Hynson stated.
“One decided to stay where they were in county government and not move.
“This board knows the seriousness of having a good person in the District 3 position,” the Chair continued.
“Judging from the four individuals who already talked to me, I’m sure we can have a very good person. We’ll make the selection on the 22nd at 7 p.m. and we’ll try to make it fair and equitable.”



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