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Wilm. City Council Looking for More Open Replacement Process

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By Peter Biello

Wilmington, NC – With the possibility of losing Jason Thompson to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners in the fall, the Wilmington City Council is looking at possible ways to replace him.

Wilmington's charter says the City Council must choose someone to fill any vacancy. The last time that happened was in 2006, when J.C. Hearne took Bill Saffo's seat, when Saffo first became mayor.

Some say Hearne was voted into office too quickly and without almost any public debate.

City Council Member Laura Padgett says the process of selecting a replacement should be more transparent.

"I don't like to see decisions made before we get to the public meetings. And as I said, I think there should be an open process to find out who's interested in the seat."

So far there are no definite plans to make such public hearings permanent policy.

Council Member Earl Sheridan says if Thompson is elected to the Board of Commissioners, the City Council may offer the public time to suggest his replacement.

"When candidates are announced, maybe there might be some public hearings for people to come and speaks about who they want or that kind of thing, but nothing definitive has been decided yet."

Sheridan says even if Thompson stays on, he would like to see the Council set up a transparent process for filling vacancies.

If Thompson is elected to the Board of Commissioners in November and resigns from the City Council, his replacement would start in December and hold the position for one year.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@whqr.org.