Huntsville, TN (2018-11-06) The voters of the Town of Winfield have honored the memory of a beloved public servant and posthumously elected him to office of Mayor. Since he won’t be able to take office, the path forward is unclear.
On Tuesday, the residents of the Town of Winfield voted to elect the late V. David Cecil to the Office of Mayor. Cecil outpolled his two challengers, Bob Strunk and Ronnie Cooper, with 43% of the vote. While Strunk outpolled Cecil during Early Voting, Cecil outpolled his opponents on Election Day. During the Early Voting period Strunk received 48 votes, while Cecil and Cooper received 39 and 26 votes, respectively. On Election Day, Cecil tallied 88 votes, while Strunk and Cooper garnered 49 and 41 votes, respectively. In total, Cecil took the office with 127 votes, while Strunk totaled 97 votes and Cooper 67.
Mr. Cecil had been a member of the city council since 2002, when he was appointed to fill an unexpired term for Alderman. In October, Cecil passed away the day before Early Voting for the municipal election began. Since the candidate field had been established, Cecil’s name remained on the ballot.
Since Cecil is unable to assume the duties of the office, it’s unclear exactly how the city will continue forward. Per the town’s charter, Vice Mayor Kelvin King assumed the duties of the office following Mr. Cecil’s passing; however, Mr. King’s term of office technically ends with the swearing in of the new board.
The town’s legal counsel has said the charter states the Vice Mayor will assume the duties of office and remain in that capacity until the next election. A literal interpretation would mean King would remain on the city council in the capacity of acting Mayor until November 2020. Should it be determined his term has ended; then, the serving members of the city council may have to either select a new vice mayor, and thus, a new acting Mayor or possibly appoint a new Mayor. In the former situation, the board would proceed with four members until the next election.
Cecil began his political career in 2002, when he was appointed to the Winfield City Council to fill the unexpired term of then Alderman Kenny Burchfield, who had just been elected Mayor. He was elected in 2004, and then again in 2008. Cecil was serving as the city’s Vice-Mayor, when he ran for and was elected Mayor in 2010. He was re-elected Mayor in 2014 and was seeking re-election to the office before his untimely death.
While unprecedented locally, Mr. Cecil isn’t the only person to be elected to an office following his death. In 2010, the voters of Tracy City, TN elected Carl Robin Greary, Sr. to the office of Mayor in a similar situation. Greary, who was challenging an incumbent Mayor, outpolled his opponent nearly three to one. In that case, the city council was tapped to appoint a new Mayor.
The voters of Winfield also elected two aldermen Tuesday night. Incumbent candidate Chad Jones retained his seat on the council, while former Alderman and current County Commissioner Harold Chambers was selected to fill the seat left vacant by King. Chambers received 155 votes in the election, while Jones tallied 129. Winfield businessman Doug Wilson, Jr. was close behind with 122 votes, while Stacy McBroom Love, a local school teacher, received 97 votes.