RALEIGH – With the special election to fill the vacant seat on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen less than a week away, early voting has only produced one vote in more than a week, and the North Carolina Legislature is working to make sure the unnecessary cost doesn’t happen again.
“(It’s) for one person,” North Carolina Senator and former Carrboro mayor Ellie Kinnaird says. “It’s not as though there (is a) contested election even.”
The one person who filed for the empty seat is former Carrboro Planning Board chair and current member, Damon Seils.
The special election is costing the Town nearly $18,000. Kinnaird says a bill that passed in the Senate on Wednesday and is headed to the House will change the format and eliminate that unneeded cost when a situation like this arises.
“I think there are 500 and some cities and towns that have this particular way of filling a seat with either an election or an appointment,” Senator Kinnaird says. “So, we just want to be like every other city and town that has this particular method of filling a vacancy.”
In fact, Chapel Hill recently filled the empty seat on the Town Council by appointment. That seat was left vacant by Penny Rich when she left for the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
Senator Kinnaird says, as she has often seen, the Orange County based bill may see some opposition even though it’s fairly plain and simple.
“These are freshman and they don’t understand one of the things that you do is you honor your local officials’ requests by running bills that they have decided they want,” Senator Kinnaird says. “But they said, well what if there were a majority who wanted one and not the other, then they would be able to run over the minority. Well, that’s called democracy.”
The bill passed its third reading in the Senate Wednesday afternoon and was sent to the House. If all goes smoothly, it could pass by the end of the day Wednesday, but there are no guarantees.
Carrboro’s special election takes place on March 19.