Anderson Appointed Mayor of Winfield, Sexton to Fill Vacancy

Winfield, TN (2018-12-11) First-term Winfield Alderwoman Opal Anderson was appointed the first female Mayor of the municipality Tuesday night.  Former Winfield Mayor Donald (Dick) Sexton was tapped to the fill the vacancy created by her appointment.

Newly appointed Mayor Opal Anderson takes the oath of office, which is being administered by Scott County Clerk Felicia Hamby Bilbrey. Anderson is the first ever female Mayor of the municipality.

By a 3-1 margin with Alderman Bob Strunk casting the lone dissenting vote, Alderwoman Opal Anderson was chosen by her fellow aldermen to fill the office of Mayor; a seat left vacant by the untimely death of mayor-elect V. David Cecil.  Anderson will serve in her newly-appointed capacity until the next municipal election in November 2020.

Anderson, who turned 80 earlier this year, will not only be the first female serving in the capacity of Mayor, she is the oldest-ever serving Mayor of the municipality.

Anderson’s appointment ended a month of speculation about who would be chosen to fill the vacancy, which was created last month when the voters elected V. David Cecil to the office.  Cecil, who had served as the town’s Mayor for the past eight years, died in mid-October only days before early voting began for the November municipal election.

State law prescribes that when a deceased person is elected to a public office, a vacancy shall be declared.   Since the office was vacant and the town’s vice-mayor had chosen not to run for re-election, the town’s legal counsel, local attorney Scarlett Ellis, following guidance from Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS), had to walk the city council through Tuesday night’s meeting.

Leaning on standard practices set forth by Roberts Rules of Order, Tuesday night’s meeting was called to order by Alderman Chad Jones, who is the longest serving member of the city council. The members then took up the appointment of Chairman Pro-Tem to preside over the rest of the meeting.  On a motion by newly-elected Alderman Harold Chambers, Jones was appointed to the post on a 3-1 vote with Strunk casting the lone dissenting vote.

The body then took up the appointment of a vice-mayor, which per the charter, would then be tapped to perform the duties of mayor.  Chambers made a motion to appoint Anderson to the position, a motion that was eventually seconded by Jones.  Strunk objected to the process taken by the city council to name a vice-mayor, saying the body should take nominations for the post instead of making a motion to directly appointment someone.  “(The charter says) the aldermen will elect and vote a vice mayor,” Ellis responded.  “Sounds like they already have,” Strunk fired back.  Strunk was one of three persons who ran for the office in November.  He finished second.

The body then voted on the motion to appoint Anderson with Chambers, Jones and Anderson voting in favor, and Strunk objecting.

On the second order of business Tuesday night, the city council took up the vacancy created by the appointment of Anderson.  Unlike the appointment of Mayor, which by the charter had to be someone serving on the city council, the selection of an alderman to replace Anderson was open to any resident of the city.  Deviating from the procedure it had taken to appoint Anderson, the city council open the floor to nominations for the post.  Strunk quickly nominated Doug Wilson, Jr., who ran for alderman in November—finishing third.  Chambers nominated former Winfield Mayor and former Scott County Road Superintendent Donald (Dick) Sexton to fill the vacancy.  Sexton was appointed to the seat on a 3-1 vote with Strunk dissenting.

In the final piece of the reorganizational puzzle, the city council filled the position of vice-mayor.  On a motion by Chambers, which was seconded by Anderson, the body unanimously appointed Chad Jones to the post.