There’s an obvious explanation as to why a Pembroke Town Council seat remains vacant six months after the death of the person who held it: The council members in charge of making the appointment to that seat are in no hurry to fill it, although they might be a bit more motivated after getting an earful from some residents on Monday night.
The longer the seat remains unfilled, the bigger the stick that each council member carries. Currently two councilmen, Allen Dial and Ryan Sampson, are calling the shots for the town, and if a fourth council member takes a seat, then that person’s vote would be required, or Mayor Milton Hunt would be holding the heaviest hand with the tie-breaker.
The vacant seat had been held by Robert Williamson, who was elected to the council in November. Williamson was active in civic affairs in Pembroke for the years leading up to his election, and had been a rock in the shoe of previous council members, never reluctant to be blunt in his critique of how they were doing the town’s work. He died shortly after being sworn in of an illness he had bravely fought for a long time — and didn’t get the opportunity to hold on for long to a part of the town’s steering wheel.
State law requires the sitting council members nominate a replacement, and then vote on that person, a task that certainly shouldn’t have taken six months. Perhaps the sitting council members were expecting that town residents would forget that the board was one person short, but the folks have been increasingly restless of late, and on Monday each of the commissioners nominated a person for the at-large seat. But none of the nominees won a second, so if any progress were made, we don’t what that is.
Some town residents argued for a special election, but state law doesn’t lean that way. An unsuccessful candidate for the council lobbied on Monday night that she be appointed, but hers was not among the names nominated.
We would expect that soon enough the mystery of who will hold the fourth council seat will be solved as it just can’t be that difficult for two council members to agree on a nominee.
But we might be expecting too much. After all, in October it will have been four years since the Pembroke ABC store closed, and there isn’t much reason to expect that hole will be plugged soon.
Slow seems to be the preferred speed by the Pembroke Town Council.