Council finds 2-step solution

Council finds 2-step solution
September 06
05:00 2018

Filling East Ward vacancy to include temporary appointment

The Winston-Salem City Council has decided to appoint someone to temporarily fill the East Ward seat and then hold a special election, contingent on General Assembly action.

East Ward City Council Member Derwin Montgomery, who is also one of the Chronicle’s owners, was recently picked to replace 72nd District State Rep. Ed Hanes, who retired from the General Assembly to pursue other opportunities.

Montgomery hasn’t announced when he’ll resign his City Council seat for his new position, but has said there are items that will come before the council he wants to vote on before he steps down.

Replacing Montgomery became a controversial topic when the council considered it last month. A split City Council had approved a process where it would’ve taken applications from the public and then selected who would represent the East Ward. This drew the ire of some Democrats in the ward, who demanded a special election.

The City Council decided to reconsider its action, but council members were unsatisfied that the only type of special election they could hold wouldn’t have a primary and would instead rely on political parties to nominate the candidates.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Montgomery proposed a two-part solution. First, to have an interim City Council member, nominated by the Forsyth County Democratic Party’s executive committee members in the East Ward once Montgomery announced his retirement, who would be approved by the council.

The second part involves the City Council crafting a local act in its General Government Committee that the General Assembly would pass authorizing special elections for council seats in Winston-Salem that would have primaries.

Montgomery said the Forsyth County Legislative Delegation was confident it could get the act passed. The interim replacement would be asked not to run for the seat either in the special election or in the 2020 election, if that came first.

“What I’ve heard from the community is, what happens if the council appoints a person, even if it’s recommended by the party, and the community doesn’t like it?” said Montgomery.

All the City Council members supported it and it passed unanimously. The reaction from the residents during the public comment session were mostly positive. Those who condemned the council last month said this was a far better solution.

“You’ve restored my faith in all of you, and I want to say thank you for that,” said Dee Washington.

With City Council Members Dan Besse and Denise Adams both running for other offices this year, this new process will allow a consistent way for the council to fill their potential vacancies if they win. Mayor Allen Joines indicated the city would want to hold one special election if their were multiple vacancies. 

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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