Board looks to fill vacant seat

Published 10:35 am Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors appears to have a clear plan and pathway forward with regard to the process of filling the now-vacant Buffalo District supervisor seat, though some course changes could still occur.

At the board’s organizational meeting Jan. 8, Buffalo District Supervisor C.R. “Bob” Timmons Jr. announced he would be resigning effective Jan. 31. He was starting the second year of his second four-year term.

Deliberations took place shortly after Timmons’ announcement, and it was noted that some questions existed with regard to details of the replacement process and that answers would be sought and found in the days that followed.

From the date a seat becomes effectively vacant, in this case Feb. 1, the board has 45 days to appoint a replacement. If it does not make an appointment in that time, the decision falls to a judge of the Prince Edward County Circuit Court.

Howard Simpson, former Farmville 101 District supervisor and longtime board member, died in February 2018. In that instance, the board opted not to appoint someone to fill the vacancy within 45 days, leaving it to a judge to seek and appoint someone to fill the seat until a special election could be held for it in November.

In this case, the board is looking like it will use its ability to make an appointment.

“At the last board the meeting, the board voted to advertise,” Prince Edward County Administrator Wade Bartlett said in an interview Wednesday.

Advertisements have been running in The Herald. Part of the ad in the Feb. 1 paper reads as follows: “Pursuant to Virginia Code Section 24.2- 228, the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors will consider filling a vacant seat on the board of supervisors. The seat represents Buffalo District 5 (Precincts 501-Darlington Heights and 502-Buffalo Heights) which becomes vacant effective Feb. 1, 2019, following the resignation of the current board member. Only qualified voters of the Buffalo District can be considered to fill this vacancy. Any qualified voter who is also a resident of the Buffalo District, wishing to be considered, must return a County Citizen Volunteer Application to the County Administrator’s Office by no later than 12:00 noon on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.”

Describing the continuation of the process, Bartlett said, “And then the board will look at those applications, and actually they have a meeting 5 o’clock Tuesday where they will look at the applications and interview the ones they decide to interview. So they’ll look at the applications — we’ll try to get those out this weekend — and they’ll make a decision. And after that, they have until sometime in March.”

That does not mean they have to use the full 45-day window, though.

“They could appoint someone as early as, I guess, Feb. 12, but that would be up to the board,” Bartlett said.

Tuesday’s 5 p.m meeting will be a closed session in advance of the regular open-session 7 p.m. monthly meeting that same night.

Explaining what will happen at the 5 p.m. meeting, Bartlett said “There will be an interview, and then after that, that’s up to the board. They may decide they have enough information and can make a decision that day, or they could decide to mull over what they’ve heard and make a decision later.”

The board could choose to repeat some of the steps of the replacement process or could even choose to once again leave the appointment up to a judge.

“That is still a possibility, but all indications are that they’re going to appoint someone,” Bartlett said. “But that’s still a possibility if they are not satisfied. That could be a possibility that they would decide not to, and they could then re-advertise again and try to find more (applicants), or they could decide not to appoint at all, and then it would go to the judge again.”

The subject of determining Timmons’ replacement could end up being part of the agenda for Tuesday’s open-session regular February board meeting.

“It may be added,” Bartlett said. “Right now, it’s not on the agenda, but actually we just had a meeting last night, and that’s kind of when they decided. So we may put it on the agenda and then we could remove it or we could leave it off, and they could add it.”