Now, Mt. Zion Mayor Randy Sims is asking the governor to assume the same power to fill a vacant City Council seat, where every appointment made by the mayor has failed by a 2-2 council vote.
“We’re hopelessly deadlocked,” Sims said Thursday. “We’ve had a tie vote on everybody nominated. So now, I’m pretty well dependent on the governor to do the appointment for us.”
Sims said he and Ward 2 Councilman Earlis McGraw have voted in favor of the nominations, while Ward 3 Councilman Andrew Richie and Ward 4 Councilman Bobby Mullenix have voted against.
At the Feb. 12 council meeting, Sims appointed John Griffin, a former two-term Mt. Zion mayor, for the post. The vote was a 2-2 deadlock. On Tuesday night, Sims tried another appointment, former mayor and councilman Donald Newman, but met the same fate.
David Mecklin, Mt. Zion’s city attorney, said there’s a provision in state law that allows the governor to fill an open council seat if there continues to be a vacancy for more than 45 days.
“As city attorney, I’ve sent a letter to the governor’s office, notifying them that there continues to be a vacancy for 45 days, the triggering date, and asking them what procedures they might follow to fill that seat,” Mecklin said. “They’ve had the letter a few days and I haven’t heard back. I’ll probably call back Friday to check if they’ve received it.”
Mecklin said the governor has the power to fill the vacancy, but he doesn’t think the governor is required to fill it.
He said while Mt. Zion’s city charter doesn’t require the vacated seat to be filled, it’s better to have an odd number on any board so that repeating tie votes won’t occur.
Mecklin said the city could still fill the vacancy itself if it acts before the governor does. He said Mt. Zion can’t hold a special election to fill the vacant seat because a special election requires a vote by the Georgia General Assembly and a request for the vote wasn’t brought in time for the current 2013 session.
The vacancy resulted from the walkout of Ward 1 Councilman Keith Pike, who sent word to the Dec. 11 council meeting that he was resigning, effective immediately. Pike, whose term was due to run through 2015, quit his post after the mayor and council couldn’t come together on a budget and the city was facing possible loss of state tax revenues and grants. The budget crisis was eventually solved at a Dec. 17 called meeting when the warring factions reached an agreement.
“I’m not sure if I’ll nominate someone else at our April meeting,” Sims said. “I don’t know if it’s a waste of time or not.”