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Shonts takes seat on town council

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CENTREVILLE — After five and a half months of controversy, Josh Shonts took his seat on the Centreville Town Council March 12. Clerk of Court Katherine Hager administered his oath of office at the beginning of the meeting, and Shonts signed the official Test Book.

Town Clerk Carolyn Brinkley certified Shonts following public comment and a brief farewell to outgoing Councilman Jim Beauchamp and Shonts joined fellow Council members Tim McCluskey and Jeff Morgan at the front of the room for the official reorganization meeting.

Morgan was elected Council president, McCluskey as vice president. Morgan assigned McCluskey as liaison to the town’s Planning and Zoning Department and Shonts to the town’s Parks and Recreation Department. Morgan said he would continue to serve as the town’s representative to the Council of Governments.

Town attorney Sharon VanEmburgh introduced a series of proposed resolutions she prepared in order to amend Centreville’s charter to expand the council to five members.

Resolution 01-2020 added language to Section 201, concerning the number of council members and their terms, stating that during the transition from three to five council members the fifth council member will initially serve a two-year term.

Resolution 02-2020 made changes to Section 202, regarding qualifications of council members, adding the word “immediately” to the line that reads “shall be registered voters of the town for at least six months preceding their election.” It goes on to add that a council member who ceases to be a registered voter of the town shall immediately resign.

Resolution 03-2020 and Resolution 04-2020 addressed section 207, dealing with quorum. Council members selected 03-2020, which allowed a simple majority of the council to hold meetings but required a majority of the whole council to take actions.

Resolution 05-2020 and Resolution 06-2020 made changes to Section 209, dealing with passage of ordinances — specifically emergency ordinances. Council members selected Resolution 06-2020, which would require a super majority (four votes) to pass emergency legislation.

Resolution 07-2020 addressed Section 409, having to do with the election of council members, and included the details of how the town plans to move to five council members. It specified beginning on the first Monday in October 2020 and every third year following, two council members will be elected; in 2021 and every third year following, a single council member will be elected; and in 2022 and every third year following, two council members will be elected. It added that a third member will be elected in October 2020 for a two-year term.

Resolution 08-2020 simply allowed for more than one candidate in Section 412, dealing with vote count. The new sentence would read, “The candidate or candidates with the highest number of votes in the general elections shall be declared elected.”

Resolution 09-2020 similarly changed the language in Section 419, dealing with uncontested elections, to allow for additional candidates. It says if the number of candidates is equal to the number of open seats, then the election will be canceled. It also says if not enough candidates file to file the open seats, the members with expiring terms will continue to serve until a candidate is elected and qualified to replace them.

Resolution 10-2020 and Resolution 11-2020 addessed Section 420, dealing with tie votes in the 2020 election to decide who got the two-year term. Resolution 10-2020 said the tie vote would go to a special election. Resolution 11-2020 said the tie vote would be broken by a coin flip.

The council briefly discussed tie votes with VanEmburgh. No one favored a coin flip decision. They decided the candidates elected could determine among themselves who would get the two-year term in case of a tie; if they can’t reach a decision, then the question would go to a special election.

VanEmburgh was scheduled to return March 19 with updated versions of the resolutions, which, if approved by the council, would then be scheduled for public hearing.

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