There is a “buzz” about the District 5 Clinton City Council vacancy, with a handful of names being bandied about, city officials said. However, with just two days remaining to submit letters of intent for the position, none have been received at City Hall.
“We have received no letters yet, but we have had a bunch of calls,” City manager Shawn Purvis said Wednesday afternoon. “There are five or six names that keep coming up. We think people are interested.”
The term of Councilwoman Maxine W. Harris, who passed away last month, will expire in December. Purvis believes the word of mouth regarding the current Council void is still there and said those interested have until close of business Friday to notify city officials of their interest.
“There is definitely a buzz about it,” he said. “It could be a matter of people being busy or waiting until closer to the 5 p.m. Friday deadline. They still have Thursday and Friday. It will be interesting to see who comes forward and wants to be involved.”
Each of those possible candidates will have a chance to speak to the Council during an open session before a decision is made by the Council. Purvis said each can address their specific “reasoning and desire” to serve, as well as their goals or anything else they would like to say.
At the City Council’s regular meeting at the beginning of March, Mayor Lew Starling said the intention was to open up that “application” window for a few weeks leading up to April’s meeting, at which the Council would hear from possible candidates before making an appointment.
The mayor encouraged anyone who would like to be considered for the post to send a letter to City Clerk Elaine Hunt, including some biographical information and their request for appointment. All letters are due to City Hall by 5 p.m. this Friday, March 24. Applicants must be a resident of District 5.
“We will receive these applicants at our April 4 meeting to tell us something about themselves and why they want to be on the Council,” the mayor remarked. “I would anticipate Council will appoint someone at that meeting. So it is very important that anyone who wishes to be considered have their letter to the clerk by the close of business March 24. If you do not meet the deadline, I am not sure Council will consider the application.”
Starling pointed out that all letters will be subject to an “open and fair process” by which they will also be offered to local media for public dissemination upon submission.
The next District 5 Council representative will be taking over a position held by Harris for nearly 20 years. Harris passed away Feb. 21 of natural causes at the age of 75. She served as a councilwoman since December 1997 and was elected mayor pro tem by the Council in December 2001.
She made history by becoming the first woman to serve on the Clinton City Council and the first African-American to serve as mayor pro tem. She was honored with a resolution of respect during this month’s Council meeting.
Throughout this month, city officials have been going to each district as part of a series of annual meetings to discuss city projects and initiatives and hear residents’ concerns and feedback. Purvis said it is unknown whether there will be a meeting for District 5, which regularly has the highest attendance.
“The best option is to leave that open until the appointment is made,” the city manager said, noting a time and date could be set soon thereafter. “That will be up to the mayor and City Council, including the new representative.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.