Council tables talk on replacement for board vacancy

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 2, 2014

A “special meeting” the day after Christmas didn’t produce the anticipated new member of the Clemmons Village Council to fill Nick Nelson’s vacated seat.

Nelson, who was elected mayor in the November election after claiming a four-year term as a councilman in 2011, had called the meeting last Thursday for the council to appoint his replacement.

It didn’t happen as veteran councilwoman Mary Cameron made the request to table making a decision until the next regular council meeting on Jan. 6.

“I don’t feel we’re doing the citizens of Clemmons justice without having some one-on-one discussions about these candidates, and that hasn’t taken place,” said Cameron of the 11 individuals who had expressed interest in the position. “Since that hasn’t taken place and we haven’t benefited from having discussions and sharing our opinions and our knowledge about these individual candidates, I’d like to use my prerogative and table this until the next meeting, which is Jan. 6, to give us that time.”

And just like that, two minutes into the meeting, it was over.

“Well, then, let’s go home,” said councilman Mike Rogers.

Nelson opened the meeting by reminding that the council that “we don’t technically have a ballot or a set process in how we decide it. I’ll leave it up to you how you want to initiate this vote.”

Cameron then made her request to table any action until the next meeting in January, which was moved from the regular second Monday night to the first (Jan. 6) so that the new council member can attend a government workshop the following weekend in Asheville.

When asked if her statement was a motion, Cameron stated it “doesn’t need to be a motion, doesn’t have to be seconded and doesn’t have to be voted on.”

In the council bylaws, there is a clause that allows any council member to delay consideration of a new matter until the next meeting of the council.

Nelson said that no council member had expressed concern to him either way.

“I called a special meeting to appoint the open position,” he said. “We don’t have a set policy in place, whether it’s verbally, write it down, circle a name, it’s up to them how to approach it. If they want to verbally state a name, they can certainly do that.

“Council members felt like not enough discussion had been had and wanted to table. As someone who has tabled an issue myself (as a council member) for the purpose of wanting more information or more discussion, I can appreciate that.”

Cameron said after the meeting that it simply came down a lack of communication.

“We haven’t talked with each other,” she said. “ I just don’t think it’s fair to these candidates or the citizens in general if we’re not sharing information and thoughts with each other. It’s just a lack of communication. That’s all it is for whatever reason. Whether it was Christmas time or whatever, it’s a busy time. I wasn’t in favor of the meeting in the first place.”

Cameron said she had one conversation with new council member Bill Lawry about how the previous council handled filling the position of Chris Jones, who died unexpectedly in April 2012.

“Mike (Rogers) knows how we did it in the past,” she said, “and (councilman) Norm (Denny) knows how we’ve done it in the past because they were there when we chose Michael Gautreaux. We can do it differently. We can do it the same way. We talked to each other then so we had a pretty good idea.”

The names on the list complied after the council’s Dec. 16 deadline of those who might have interest in serving on the council include Lanny Farmer, Donald Kinney, Mike Parnitzke, Darrell Roark, Bruce Kardon, Deborah Taylor, Frank Samuelson, Michael Combest, Robin Dean, Wendy Boling and Eric Blanks.

“It’s a great list,” Cameron said. “We need to give these people a fair shake.”