Council considering 3 options for filling E. Ward seat

City Councilman Derwin Montgomery

Council considering 3 options for filling E. Ward seat
August 30
09:03 2018

The City Council is hoping to get feedback on its options for filling the East Ward seat that’ll be vacated when Derwin Montgomery becomes a state representative.

Montgomery, who is also one of the Chronicle’s owners, was picked to replace 72nd District State Rep. Ed Hanes. Hanes stepped down to pursue other opportunities earlier this month. A split City Council was originally going to accept applications from the public and choose Montgomery’s successor themselves. They reconsidered that decision after hearing from some Democrats in the ward who demanded that they instead hold a special election.

Mayor Allen Joines said the City Council plans to bring the matter up again during its 7 p.m. meeting on Tuesday with an opportunity for the public to speak before the possible vote.  He encouraged city residents to contact him or their City Council member by phone or email to let them know which option they want.

“I think council members are certainly anxious to hear from the public on how they feel,” said Joines.

Montgomery has said there are items that will come before the City Council he wants to vote on before he steps down. It’s doubtful his resignation would come in time to place the special election on the November ballot.

According to Forsyth County Board of Elections Director Tim Tsujii, ballots are usually required to be ready to be sent to absentee voters 60 days before an election, or Sept. 7 this year. A court case contesting the constitutional amendments on the ballot could possibly push that date back but, regardless, ballots would need to be finalized a couple weeks before early voting, which starts Oct. 17.  A separate special East Ward election would cost the city an estimated $10,000 to $11,000.

(A ruling by a federal judge panel struck down North Carolina’s congressional map, which could delay ballots being printed. However, a hearing will be held Friday that could clear up the schedule for printing ballots.)

A special election would have no primary. Instead, the executive committee members that reside in the East Ward for each political party in Forsyth County would have the opportunity to nominate a candidate. Those candidates would be on the ballot in a special election held for East Ward residents no later than 60 days after the seat became vacant.

The city’s ability to hold a special election comes from a 1971 local act by the General Assembly, which amended the city charter so it can hold an election if there’s a vacancy with 12 or more months remaining in the term of office.

Montgomery’s term on City Council ends in 2020.

There are two other options that involve the council making the decision, which are authorized by N.C. General Statue 160A-63. The first would let the Forsyth County Democratic Party recommend a replacement, which the City Council would vote to approve.

The last option involves placing an advertisement once Montgomery tenders his resignation with a 14-day period for applications from Democrats who live in the East Ward. Applications would include a resume and essays of no more than 500 words on three key issues facing the city and three key issues facing the East Ward.

The council would nominate applicants and then vote until they have two finalists, which they could take comments from. The person who receives majority vote from the City Council would become the new East Ward representative.

Forsyth County Party Chair Eric Ellison said that the decision on how to fill the seat is up to the City Council, but he hopes they will keep the process transparent and open to public input as much as possible.

“We encourage City Council and the mayor to get as much input and make this an open Democratic process, so that everybody feels like they’re part of the decision making, most particularly the people of the East Ward should have some voice,” he said.

According to the city, a special election was held in 1971. The City Council appointed replacements for vacancies in 1973, 1980 and 2001.

About Author

Todd Luck

Todd Luck

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors