City Council Will Appoint One of Its Own to Fill Vacancy

Winfield, TN (2018-11-07) While residents of the Town of Winfield posthumously elected V. David Cecil to the Office of Mayor following his untimely death last month, it appears the city council will be tasked with appointing his replacement. Legal advisors say that not only will the Board of Aldermen make the appointment, one of those four will be the next mayor.

On Tuesday, the late V. David Cecil outpolled his two challengers to win what would have been his second full term as mayor of the municipality.  While voters voiced support for Cecil at the polls, the appointment of the town’s next mayor will be the responsibility of the city council.

According to local attorney Scarlett Ellis, who serves as the town’s legal counsel, the process of filling the Office of Mayor will require multiple actions by the city council; including the appointment of a vice-mayor, who will immediately become the mayor, and then the appointment of another vice-mayor and a new alderman.

Per state statute, if a deceased person is elected to a public office, a vacancy in the office exists.  Then, that vacancy shall be filled by prevailing laws.  In this case, the city’s charter will be the roadmap for naming Cecil’s successor.

The appointment will be the task of the city’s new board, which will be complete after Tuesday’s election results are certified by the Scott County Election Commission.  Certification should occur at the Commission’s next meeting, which will be held on Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 12:00 p.m.

Once newly-elected Alderman Harold Chambers and returning incumbent Alderman Chad Jones are installed, they, along with Alderwoman Opal Anderson and Alderman Bob Strunk, could meet; however, the board’s next regular meeting isn’t until December 11, 2018, and in the absence of a mayor, a special called meeting cannot be convened.

According to Stephanie O’Hara, a staff attorney with Municipal Technical Advisory Service, the first order of business for the new board would be the appointment of a vice-mayor, which is traditionally held on the first meeting following an election.  However, this appointment will have historical significance, as the person named will immediately assumed the duties of the Office of Mayor.  Per the city charter, he or she will serve in that capacity until the next municipal election, which will be held in November 2020.  By accepting the appointment, the designee will also surrender his or her seat as alderman on the city council.

Once the mayor is name, then the city council will be tasked with appointing another vice-mayor, who will serve in that capacity for a least two years.  Afterwards, the city council will have the option of appointing someone to fill the unexpired term of the alderman who was just appointed mayor.  That appointment will be open to any resident of the municipality that meets the standard requirements for serving.

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.