Five Apply For Vacancy
Published 3:29 pm Tuesday, May 20, 2014
FARMVILLE — Five individuals have formally asked to be considered for appointment to town council when David E. Whitus becomes mayor on July 1.
Whitus is currently one of two At-Large town council members and his term of office runs through June 30, 2016.
In alphabetical order, Daniel E. Dwyer, Carl U. Eggleston, Robert M. Glenn, Jr., Jack E. Houghton, and R. Rhodes Martin, Jr., have each written to Town officials asking to be considered.
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Town council has the power to make an interim appointment, someone who would serve until a special election can be held to allow voters to determine who fills the remainder of Whitus’ unexpired term.
But council members can also, by choosing not to appoint, put that decision into the hands of the circuit court.
Town council is mulling its options and has so far given no public indication of its intentions.
Per the Code of Virginia, town council can do nothing until the vacancy actually occurs, which will happen on July 1. Council members, whether they make an interim appointment or not, will then have 15 days in which to petition the court to hold a special election.
Town council members are apparently considering two schools of thought, were they to make an interim appointment themselves:
First, appointing someone who has expressed interest in serving and who would be expected to run in the special election.
Or, secondly, choosing someone who professes no interest in running in the special election but would agree to serve the several months until voters have their say.
The second course is attractive to some because it would not give an electoral advantage to anyone in the special election. History shows that even a few months in office lends a touch of incumbency to an appointee and does give them momentum over their rivals.
However, as Eggleston observed to The Herald on Friday, there is no guarantee that someone who has no present intention to run in the special election won’t change his or her mind after being appointed on an interim basis by town council. And nothing to stop them from running either.
An obvious alternative to avoid that scenario would be appointing retiring Ward A council member Dr. Edward I. Gordon, who did not run for reelection this month and has clearly articulated his eager anticipation at leaving his town council days behind him so that he can travel and enjoy other pursuits.
Dr. Gordon, however, had a one-word answer when The Herald posed the scenario Friday.
“No,” he said, clearly stating he would neither throw his own hat into the ring nor accept anyone trying to throw it into the ring for him.
“I’ve made my intentions clear,” he said regarding his retirement from town council on June 30.
“So the short answer is No,” he said.
And the long answer was its twin.
As for the five who have said Yes in writing to the town council members, applying for the vacancy, in alphabetical order:
Stating his “strong desire to serve my community,” Dwyer describes Farmville as “an amazing town with an exciting future. I would like to be part of the process in shaping that future.”
Noting his track record of public service as a current member of both the Farmville Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals, Dwyer describes himself as “an even-keeled fellow” who tries to “get along with everyone. However, I am not afraid to take a stand on issues even though I may be in a minority.”
An elected official, Dwyer writes, “should listen to his or her constituents. I would not come to this position with a hidden agenda or an axe to grind. I am basically non-partisan when it comes to politics, although I tend to lean slightly to the right on most issues.”
The longtime member and past president of the Farmville Rotary Club notes “I have a working knowledge of the issues facing our town and county and pride myself on being up to date on current affairs.”
Dwyer has 33 years of continuous employment with The Farmville Herald, though not on the newspaper, serving as sales manager of Farmville Printing since 1987.
Eggleston is a former town council member and finished second in this month’s town-wide vote for mayor.
The businessman ran on a campaign of “creating One Farmville to bring citizens together in unity” and in last month’s debate described his mayoral vision as having “government that is open and transparent so that citizens would know what’s transpiring in their local government.”
Eggleston noted that, “As a former member of Farmville’s town council and a businessman for more than 30 years, I understand the economic needs of Farmville.”
In an email to The Herald on Monday, Eggleston wrote that he was asked by several citizens to seek the appointment, “as well as many citizens believe that I had a great platform and message that was good for the growth and development of Farmville. I will use my (legislative) contacts to economically benefit the Town of Farmville under the direction of the council.”
In his letter, Glenn cites “numerous membership and leadership positions in such organizations as the Rotary Club, the Downtown Merchants Association and the Town Zoning Board.”
The retired businessperson states, “It would be a great honor to continue my longstanding record of service as a member of the town council. I am prepared to dedicate myself fully to the demands of the position and the needs of the community…”
Houghton, who is retired, notes that he has been a Farmville resident for 34 years “and have worked with the Town of Farmville in some official capacity during that time, including Executive Director of the Piedmont Planning District Commission from 1981 to 2004 and a member of the Farmville Industrial Development Authority since 2006.
“Also, I ran for election to the At-Large council member seat in 2008 (not elected) and maintain a keen interest in town governmental affairs,” Houghton points out.
Houghton is a board member and vice president of Housing Opportunities, Inc., of Farmville, an organization he has been part of since 1990 and one that is affiliated with Crossroads and provides housing for persons with physical and mental disabilities.
Likewise, he is a board member and vice president of Housing Alternatives, Inc., which provides housing for persons with intellectual disabilities and has served that organization since 1990.
Houghton is also a board member and treasurer of Heart of Virginia Friends of the NRA and a 4-H adult volunteer and instructor at Holiday Lake.
Martin, an agent with Farmville Bureau Insurance, writes that his “vision for Farmville is growth—only through growth can Farmville offer valuable resources to the younger residents who fuel Farmville’s future.”
Emphasizing his youth, Martin points out that “I will provide a younger perspective by coupling my historical roots…in Farmville with my energetic outlook.”
Martin’s great, great-grandfather, R. J. Martin, was a town council member from 1923-32 and his great-uncle R. J. Martin, Jr., served on council in 1948-49.
“I will offer fresh ideas on how to recruit and retain a population that will sustain Farmville for many years to come,” he writes.