ROWLAND — The Rowland Board of Commissioners has decided to ignore the advice of the town attorney and not hold a special election to replace former Mayor James A. Hampton Sr.
Hampton resigned on March 24, citing personal reasons.” He had about 10 months remaining on a two-year term.
Commissioner Marvin C. Shooter Jr., the town’s mayor pro tem, said that the four-member board voted unanimously Wednesday at a work session to wait until the General Election in November to elect a new mayor.
“We decided it wouldn’t be beneficial to the town to elect a mayor for two months and then immediately have another election,” Shooter said. “It wouldn’t be practical financially for the town to do that.”
Shooter also said that if a special election is held it is a burden on any individuals who might seek the office in the November election. Candidate filing for the November election begins July 7.
“Anybody running for the office would have to pay a filing fee for the special election and then turn right around and pay a filing fee in July to run in the General Election,” said Shooter.
Town Clerk David Townsend said earlier this month that a special election could cost the town about $5,000. If the election is held in November, it would probably only cost about $1,500 because much of a municipality’s expenses for a General Election is paid for by the Robeson County Board of Elections.
Rob Price, the town’s attorney, had recommended that a special election be held, saying it is required in the town’s charter, which was established in the 1990s.
“I don’t know what decision the commissioners made at their work session,” Price said Thursday. “I wasn’t there. But my recommendation stands. They need to either hold the special election as required in the charter or change their charter.”
Price argues that the special election process could begin immediately. He had put together a timetable for the process that would see a candidate filing period now, an election on July 7, and a new mayor sworn-in on July 11, the next regular monthly meeting of the town board.
Commissioner Paul Hunt Jr. said he did not believe that time line was practical. Any charter change would have to have the approval of the state General Assembly.
“We probably will have to change our charter,” Hunt said, “but we can’t do that in time for a special election.”
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.