Mansfield postpones decision on special election

MANSFIELD — City Council members discussed calling for a special election to fill the unexpired term of former mayor Estona Middlebrooks Monday night, but too many questions remained unanswered, so the matter was postponed.

Interim Mayor Jefferson Riley recommended, based on discussions with the city attorney and reading the town charter and state law, that the City Council issue a call for the election in July, with qualifying in late August and the election on Sept. 23.

However, during discussion of the proposal, council members were unclear on what would happen if Riley decided to run for mayor. That decision would vacate the council seat to which he was elected in November. Council members were uncertain if they would then have to call for a second special election to fill the council seat or if it could also be filled in the Sept. 23 election.

Riley said Tuesday he conferred with the Secretary of State’s Office and learned that any council member would have to resign their seat in order to run for mayor. If a council member resigns on or before the date that the council calls for the special election, then both the council and mayor posts could be filled in the same election.

If a council member resigns at the time of qualifying, two separate elections would have to be held.

An election in Mansfield costs about $6,000.

Riley, who took office in January and was named mayor pro tem by the council, began serving as interim mayor earlier this year following the resignation of Middlebrooks.

Riley said Monday night he has not yet decided if he will seek election as mayor.

According to the town charter, the City Council can fill a vacancy in the office of mayor or in a council seat if less than 12 months remain in the unexpired term. That would not apply to either position in this case.