LUMBERTON — The Lumberton City Council on Wednesday could decide how it will fill two vacancies on that board, a task that is being complicated by the city’s own rules.
One thing is for sure: The city will hold a single special election to fill the seats of Leon Maynor, the Precinct 7 representative who died July 2, and Burnis Wilkins, the Precinct 3 representative who will become sheriff in December.
The council will meet at 11 a.m. Wednesday at its chambers at City Hall.
The council had planned to hold a special election on Nov. 6 to fill Wilkins’ seat, with the plan for him to resign his seat in August so filing could begin. But the city recently learned that did not allow time for absentee and early voting that will be part of the General Election, during which there will be federal, state and local ballots.
The Lumberton council in the 1980s had special legislation passed through the General Assembly that requires a special election for vacated seats, and that they not be filled by appointment. City Attorney Holt Moore said that legislation was done in advance of early voting, and now the timeframe is making it challenging.
There is a possibility that Wilkins could resign his seat on Wednesday to allow for the filing period to begin next week. There is also the possibility that the special election could be held early during 2019 and that early voting would not be provided.
City officials on Monday were trying to get clarity on all their options.
An election in early 2019 could mean that Precinct 7 is without a representative for as many as seven or eight months, but would allow Wilkins to keep his Precinct 3 seat a while longer. The council can operate with six members, which would then require at least four to attend a meeting in order to establish a quorum that is needed to officially conduct business.
Maynor’s death was unexpected. He suffered a heart attack on June 20 and died 12 days later.
Wilkins outlasted a field of five on May 8 to become sheriff-elect. He faces no opposition in the November General Election.
In other business on Wednesday, contracts could be awarded for the administration of Hurricane Matthew-related projects.
Grants will provide money for elevation, demolition or rehabilitation work for homes that were victims of the storm that hit Lumberton on Oct. 8, 2016.
Other agenda items include:
— The Lumberton Police Department will seek permission to accept the 2017 Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant that will provide $34,953 for the department to use for equipment, training and overtime. The Sheriff’s Office would receive $20,158.
— Consider a bid of $179,149 by Axel McPherson Inc. of Whiteville for the first phase of the Riverwalk. The project was budgeted at $150,000.
— The North Carolina Department of Transportation is requesting a resolution of support of the Exit 19 bridge project in order to move the project forward.
Editor Donnie Douglas can be reached at 910-416-5649 or [email protected]