Newborn amending charter to address vacant seats

NEWBORN -- The Newborn Town Council is in the process of changing its charter to address the filling of council posts left vacant when there is a failure of any citizen to qualify to run for elected office.

Currently, Post 2, previously held by Dennis Fincher, is vacant since there were no qualifiers for the seat, which was to be filled during the November Municipal Election.

The Town Council is expected to vote on a charter amendment on Jan. 23 following a public hearing and then send it on for approval by the Georgia General Assembly. According to Town Attorney Joe Reitman, the process should take less than two months.

The amendment adds "failure to elect a council member" as a reason that an office may become vacant, in addition to an official's death, resignation, forfeiture of office or removal from office. It also specifies that the council may appoint a new member for the entire term if the vacancy is caused by failure to elect. Otherwise, the appointment is for the duration of the unexpired term. The current charter does not address the issue of how to fill a vacant seat should no one qualify or be elected.

The Post 2 seat was initially a two-year term seat, after the town adopted staggered terms beginning in 2010, with two council members serving for two years and two for four years. Previously, the entire council, including the mayor, was up for election at the same time. With the initial two-year term now complete, the appointment to Post 2 will serve a full four-year term.

John Donaldson was elected to Post 2 in November 2009 and held the seat from January 2010 until June 2011. After Donaldson resigned because he was moving outside town limits, Fincher was appointed to fill his unexpired term.