Council moving forward to fill seat

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 14, 2005

Chuckatuck residents interested in filling the unexpired term of Suffolk City Councilman E. Dana Dickens III have one week to formally toss their names into the hat.

After nearly an hour of discussion during Thursday’s special meeting, city lawmakers voted unanimously to give prospective appointees until noon Jan. 21 to get resumes to City Clerk Erika Jenkins.

Dickens, who lost his third bid for mayor in July, stepped down from the council on Wednesday. His resignation follows his appointment last week as the new president and chief executive officer of the Hampton Roads Partnership.

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Under state law, the city council has 45 days to appoint a registered voter from the Chuckatuck borough to complete the remaining 17 months of Dickens’ term.

The council will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 to screen resumes and possibly make an appointment.

As the council was about to go into closed session to discuss the appointment,Councilwoman Linda Johnson questioned the necessity of taking the talks about the selection process behind closed doors.

&uot;I’m not interested in discussing individuals,&uot; she said. &uot;I didn’t realize we were coming here to make a selection tonight.

&uot;Our responsibility is to the 9,000-plus people in the Chuckatuck borough. We need…to listen to their feelings because the person we pick will represent them for the next 17 months.&uot;

Legally, council would be within its boundaries to go into closed session because the appointment relates to personnel and legal issues, said City Attorney Ed Roettger.

Several council members, including Councilman Calvin Jones and Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett, supported Johnson.

They agreed that city lawmakers need to make sure any registered voter in Chuckatuck interested in the position is considered.

The former council did not solicit resumes the last time it had to appoint someone to complete an unexpired term, when former Councilman S. Chris Jones was elected to the House of Delegates, said Councilman Charles F. Brown.

&uot;When we did this before, we just did it,&uot; Brown said. &uot;There was no community repercussion.&uot;

&uot;…There is a distinct difference between an appointment and hiring someone.

&uot;Filling a vacancy is within our scope.&uot;

Mayor Bobby L. Ralph said he was concerned about having the seat vacant for too long.

&uot;I’m…concerned about people in Chuckatuck not having representation on council for that time,&uot; he said.