By Tim Gardner
Christie Hughes has been appointed as an alderman in the Town of Newland, its officials have announced.
Hughes was approved to be an alderman by a 3-1 vote. Aldermen Jamey Johnson, Lauren Turbyfill and Dave Calvert voted in favor of Hughes, while Alderman Kenny Caraway voted against.
Hughes will fill the remainder of the term of former alderman Greg Seiz, who stepped down from the post on February 5. That will give the Town five aldermen—its usual number.
Hughes’ appointment will become effective at the April 2 Board of Aldermen meeting when she will officially be sworn in. That meeting will start at 6:00 p.m. in the Town Hall, located at 301 Cranberry Street.
Seiz’s resignation marked the third time in only sixteen months that a Newland Alderman’s seat became open for reasons other than a sitting member not seeking re-election or losing an election.
Donetta McKinney also resigned as an alderman in October 2017. The then-Board of Aldermen voted for Seiz to fill McKinney’s two-year term (until 2019’s election) by a 3-0-1 (for-against-abstained) vote. Seiz’s appointment gave him an automatic win for a Board seat as he had previously filed as a candidate for one of three other seats open in the November 2017 election. Aldermen voting in favor of Seiz’s appointment then were Caraway, Calvert and Roxanna Roberson. Alderman Thomas Jackson abstained.
The other Board seat became open in May 2018, when Alderman Joleta Wise was killed in an automobile accident.
By a 3-2 vote at the Board of Aldermen’s December 2018 meeting, Calvert was appointed to fill the remainder of Wise’s two-year term that will expire in December 2019.
The Board deadlocked in voting for Calvert’s appointment by a 2-2 vote. Caraway and Seiz voted for Calvert, while Turbyfill and Johnson voted against. No action can legally pass with a tie vote. But under provisions of a town ordinance, when there is an even number of members of the governing Board of Aldermen, the Mayor can choose to cast a decisive vote in case of a tie. Jaynes broke the tie by voting for Calvert’s appointment.
Calvert had lost his previous seat as an alderman in the 2017 election, finishing fourth in the race behind Johnson, Turbyfill and Wise.
At the July 2018 Board of Aldermen’s meeting, Hughes presented the aldermen with a petition of 107 signatures of the Town’s registered voters requesting them to appoint her to fill Wise’s seat.
Hughes, daughter of former Town Attorney Butch Hughes, told the aldermen then that those listed on the petition indicated that they also would vote for her if she chose to run in an election for an alderman’s seat.
Johnson made a motion at the July 2018 meeting to appoint Hughes to fill Wise’s former Board seat, but the motion died from lack of a second.
But Hughes will now serve the rest of what would have been Seiz’s term–until the December Board of Aldermen meeting. She would have to win in November’s municipal town election to remain an alderman for two years or four years past that time. The top two candidates in votes received are elected to four-year terms, while the third highest receives a two-year term.