By Tim Gardner
In a surprise move, Newland alderman Donetta McKinney has stepped down from the post. Her resignation was announced during the Board of Aldermen’s regular monthly meeting October 3 in town hall.
McKinney did not attend the meeting and a resignation letter she wrote was read to those there by Town Administrator Keith Hoilman. McKinney’s resignation was effective October 3, 2017.
Aldermen Thomas Jackson, Dave Calvert, Kenny Caraway and Roxanna Roberson were present. Other town officials attending besides Hoilman included: Mayor Valerie Jaynes; Interim Finance Officer Lisa Meinhardt; and Town Clerk and Board of Aldermen secretary Tammy Gardner. Town Attorney Joe Seegers was absent.
Following the resignation announcement, the Board of Aldermen (Town Council) voted to appoint Greg Seiz to fill the remainder of McKinney’s two-year term (until 2019’s election) by a 3-0-1 (for-against-abstained) vote. Seiz’s appointment gives him an automatic win of sorts as he had previously filed as a candidate for one of three other seats open on the Board in next month’s election. Voting in favor of Seiz’s appointment were Caraway, Calvert and Roberson. Jackson abstained.
Seiz was sworn in as an alderman following the vote.
Avery Elections Board Deputy Director Caleb Hogan said the Elections Board was notified of Seiz’s appointment and after consulting with the State Board of Elections, it was determined that Seiz, indeed, can serve as an alderman via state election laws. However, under state mandates, since Seiz is filling one seat on the Board of Aldermen and is a candidate for another seat, if he is one of the top three in votes received in the election, he must choose which seat he wants to fill. Seiz could choose to remain in his current two-year term, filling McKinney’s relinquished seat, or he could resign from it and fill a four-year term if he is one of the top two candidates in votes received. The third highest candidate in votes received would fill a two-year term.
Also, via state elections guidelines, if Seiz wins one of the three seats, the Board of Aldermen would have the authority to then appoint a person to fill a two-year term (McKinney’s former seat) or a four-year term—whichever Seiz chooses not to hold.
Hogan noted that is too late for Seiz to pull out of the aldermen’s race according to state election rules.
Others running for the three Board of Aldermen seats include: Calvert and Roberson, former Town Administrator/Finance Director Joleta Wise, Jamey Johnson and Lauren Jaynes Turbyfill, daughter of Mayor Jaynes.
Caraway, Calvert and Roberson indicated they felt the vacant seat needed to be filled immediately and that they voted for Seiz because they think he is an excellent choice to serve as McKinney’s replacement. Jackson said he has nothing against Seiz professionally or personally, but feels the Board should have interviewed several candidates before choosing one to fill the post. Before the vote, Jaynes told the Board that she believes its members should wait until after the election before appointing someone to fill McKinney’s seat.
Ironically, the aldermen’s next regular meeting will be Tuesday, November 7, which also is Election Day. The meeting will start at 6:00 p.m. in Town Hall.
In another vote (4-0), the aldermen voted to hold a public hearing October 19, at 7:00 p.m. to seek input from town residents and representatives of town businesses about long range planning for the town and a proposal for a moratorium with a 60-day or less status. Caraway said that the Board wants to get more input from the town’s residents and business owners and their employees to involve them in the long range planning process.
He said they and town officials need to “decide where the town will be in five or ten years from now.”
He added that when municipalities such as Newland apply for grant monies, that those providing the funding want to know what the money will be used for and the long range plans of those towns or cities being considered for grants.