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Special meeting of Town Council called to discuss vacancy

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Centreville Town Council

Centreville Town Council, from left, Tim McCluskey, vice president; Jeff Morgan, president; and Josh Shonts, member.

CENTREVILLE — A special meeting of the Centreville Town Council has been called for June 4. Council member and past president Tim McCluskey announced the meeting via social media Wednesday morning. The meeting was called to address the impending resignation of council member Josh Shonts and how best to address filling the vacancy that will be created.

McCluskey explained, based on the current Town Charter and the timing requirement for the special election caused by Shonts’ resignation, candidates cannot run in both the special election and the regular election. “Time is of the essence in fixing this flaw,” he wrote. The special meeting will be televised and the public comment made available via ZOOM.

Two ways to resolve the timing requirement, McCluskey suggested would be a Charter Amendment to “permanently fix the flaw” or for Shonts to delay his resignation by about one month.

The second option won’t fix the flaw, said McCluskey, but it will push the special election out far enough so that it can be held during the regular election on Oct. 5, when Centreville residents will vote to elect three other Council members.

McCluskey outlined what he recognized as a flaw in the existing Town Charter.

With Shonts’ resignation intended to be effective June 12, the vacancy would require a special election between 60-90 days as per CHARTER: Section 414, “If the remainder of the term is more than six months, a special election to fill the vacancy shall be held not less than 60 nor more than 90 days following the occurrence of the vacancy”.

However, CHARTER: Section 408, Filing Certficate of Nomination, states in part: “No persons shall file for nomination to more than one elective town public office at any one time.”

The flaw in the Charter relate to Section 408 (Filing Certificate of Nomination) and Section 414 (Vacancies) and the timing of the current vacancy, said McCluskey.

“The filing deadline for the regular election is before the special election, therefore if you are a candidate for the special election, you cannot also file for the regular election,” he explained.

His proposal is for a Charter change to hold the special election on the same day as the regular election in October. “We would modify Section 414 of the charter to say ‘If the regular Town election is less than 180 days away, the vacancy will be filled at the next regular election’, “ wrote McCluskey.

There are three seats open for the regular election on Oct. 5. The nomination cutoff date for those seats is 4 p.m. Aug. 3.

“Because the cutoff date is prior to the special election, candidates would have to declare their intent to run for the special election seat at the expense of them being eligible for the three other seats in October,” reiterated McCluskey.

“This has the potential of disenfranchising the candidate pool and causing confusion amongst voters. What candidate(s) would want to run for the special election knowing that if they are unsuccessful they cannot run for the three seats coming up a month later?”

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