08/21/12 — Council to consider pro tem job in December

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Council to consider pro tem job in December

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on August 21, 2012 1:46 PM

Goldsboro's mayor pro tem of was sworn in Monday night as a member of the City Council, even as discussions about the process by which the pro tem post is selected continued.

District 5 Councilman Chuck Allen was sworn in after election protests delayed the verification of vote totals from the recent election.

The mayor and other council members were sworn in during the Aug. 6 meeting, when newly elected District 3 Councilman William Goodman recommended the council return to its former policy of annually rotating the mayor pro tem position, which Allen has held since 2004, between black and white members.

The council held off on making a decision at that time to allow members more time to consider the issue and it was placed on the work session agenda for Monday.

No one spoke initially when the item was raised, but the awkward silence was broken when District 6 Councilman Gene Aycock admitted he still did not feel completely prepared to select a mayor pro tem. But Aycock said he had no problem maintaining the current policy of electing someone to the post to serve as long as the majority of the council deems fit.

"I personally don't want to be mayor pro tem," he said.

Goodman, who represented District 3 from 1987 until his resignation in 2004 due to a felony conviction, said he would like a return to the old procedure for determining the council's second-highest seat. The mayor pro tem, like the mayor, has no more voting power than any other member of the council, but presides over the meeting or any other events in the case of the mayor's absence.

When that motion was defeated 4-3, Goodman made another motion to nominate District 1 Councilman Michael Headen to be mayor pro tem. That motion was also defeated 4-3.

During his first full meeting as a member of the council, Aycock said the issue of mayor pro tem was not one of his priorities.

"This is the least of my concerns," he said.

Mayor Al King then asked City Clerk Melissa Corser to explain to the council the city's charter as it applies to mayor pro tem. The language there states that the mayor pro tem has no fixed term of office and serves in such capacity "at the pleasure of the remaining city council and mayor."

Headen said race should have nothing to do with someone being selected for the position.

"The bottom line is I look in the mirror every day," Headen said. "I know what color I am."

He then said he didn't care if the mayor pro tem was decided annually, biannually or quarterly, but reiterated that skin color shouldn't be a factor.

District 4 Councilman Rev. Charles Williams said he agreed with Headen about the position not being about race, but he still suggested that the position rotate, noting that he had served as mayor pro tem twice and had acted in the stead of the late Mayor Hal Plonk following his death.

"If I can do it, anybody up here can do it," he said.

Aycock repeated said he didn't care to hold the position.

"I just don't have any desire to be mayor pro tem," he said. "The way I understand it, the mayor pro tem has no more vote than anyone else."

Goodman then asked Mrs. Corser about a policy put into place in January 1988 whereby the council determined that the mayor pro tem position would not be based on the highest vote-getter among council members, as had previously been done, but to rotate the position on an annual basis.

Mrs. Corser noted that while that motion did pass, it violated the city's charter, which states that there shall be no fixed term of office for the mayor pro tem.

District 2 Councilman Bill Broadaway, another newcomer to the council who voiced concern over voting on a pro tem only minutes after being sworn into office, said he felt comfortable with delaying a decision on the mayor pro tem until December, as was agreed upon by resolution during that meeting in 1988.

A consensus was then reached that the position will be determined in December, which would give Broadaway and Aycock time to learn more about each council member and the position before casting a vote.