by Joe Schwartz
The Chapel Hill Town Council will hold a special closed meeting Friday to discuss acquiring a 70,000 square foot property along Weaver Dairy Road. There's also the matter of filling the council seat vacated by Bill Strom.
The council wasn't scheduled to meet until Sept. 14, and because Friday's special meeting is the first since Strom resigned abruptly Aug 1., the mayor will make a formal announcement of the vacancy, setting the process in motion.
In a memo to the council, Foy proposes the following timeline:
September 4: vacancy announced and applications accepted
October 2: deadline for applications to be filed
October 12: Council Business Meeting to review applications and make nominations.
November 9: Applicants will have an opportunity to make brief remarks regarding their interests in serving on the Town Council and Council may make an appointment that evening.
There are still two-and-a-half years left in Strom's term, and the issue of how to fill his seat is sticky given that the town is in the midst of an election cycle. Four seats, those of Laurin Easthom, Ed Harrison, Mark Kleinschimdt and Jim Merrittt are up for grabs. Harrison, Easthom and Merritt are vying for re-election while Kleinschmidt is running for mayor. Residents Jon Dehart, Gene Pease, Matt Pohlman, Will Raymond and Penny Rich are challenging for the seats.
The process outlined by the mayor seems to exclude the possibility of appointing a fifth place finisher to fill Strom's term. Election Day is Nov. 3 and results won't be certified until Nov. 16. That means the candidates would have to apply for the seat before the results are in, and many are reluctant to do so, worrying about what message it may send to voters.