Another bone of contention – naming a replacement for widower Councilman Dick Gee who recently remarried and moved out of Signal – also has sparked heated exchanges during recent weeks.
Soon after the impending departure was announced, the mayor – without asking for applications from anyone interested in filling the vacancy – announced that he already knew who he wanted to appoint.
That led to a wide variety of protests, including some from Councilman Landrum.
On League of Signal Mountain Voters, a blog managed by former Signal Mayor Paul Hendricks, Donald Strickland recently shared a letter sent by Sandy McCrea to all members of the town council regarding the vacancy and how it should be filled.
“Members of the Town Council and Manager Veal,” the letter began.
“None of you were in your current positions the last time a vacancy occurred on the Town Council, so you will not recall the process used to fill that vacancy. As I was a participant in that process, I recall it very well . . . The vacancy was announced and those wishing to be considered completed a questionnaire giving their reasons for applying and what they felt they had to offer . . . In an open meeting, the council then heard from the candidates, discussed their qualifications, and voted for the person who would fill the vacancy.
“This seems to me,” Ms. Crea’s letter concluded, “a reasonable, democratic and fair way to determine who will fill a vacancy, rather than having one member of the Council solicit a person for the position and then propose only that person for the job.”
Her suggestion was well received on LOSMV.
Councilman Landrum, for example, wrote that he has heard from multiple people who either are interested in filling the vacancy or who wanted to suggest somebody else for the position.
He hasn’t taken any of those names to the full council, he said, because no process has been created for doing so.
“Should it be up to me to decide which single individual is the right fit?” he asked. “This is, without doubt, a political position. This person will be involved in decisions that could impact the town for years to come. I haven’t presented any of those names because I want to see us follow a fair and open process.”
Melissa Muscovalley Barrett, a frequent Howley defender, pooh-poohed that idea.
“Mention names . . . just like the mayor did,” she wrote. “Why is that so hard? And why didn’t anyone come forward to a council meeting to say they are also willing to serve? . . . Sorry to sound harsh, but IF ANYONE wanted a process to be followed for this too then that should have been mentioned when (Gee) first announced he’d be marrying and moving out of the town limits. Not everything has to be political or made into something nefarious . . . I’m so WEARY of people making issues out of nothing.”
“It’s not hard,” Councilman Landrum countered. “It’s bad process.”
Former Mayor Hendricks, the blog moderator, also took exception to Ms. Barrett’s view of how government should work.
“The council is the one derelict in not addressing this formally earlier,” he wrote. “It is not the fault of interested parties not lobbying council members.”
“Knowing a council member should not be a reason to be under consideration,” Annie Impink Hall wrote.
Ms. Hall said she has been waiting for the council to announce the process it will use to choose a replacement “since I am willing to serve out Dick Gee’s term and not be on the ballot in November. My guess is many others are also interested in applying for the position (i)f only we knew the process for doing so.”
Ms. Barrett thought that was funny.
“I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read that you’ve been ‘waiting’ for a process to be announced,” she wrote. “NO disrespect intended, but I would think that like me you would have made your wishes known a few months ago.”
“Disrespect, intended or not, is still disrespect,” Ms. Hall retorted.