WILLIAMSON – The Williamson City Council held a special meeting Monday at 9 a.m. to appoint a Mayor Pro Tem to fill a vacancy left by Steven Knopp’s recent resignation.
According to uslegal.com, Pro tempore is a Latin phrase which means ‘for the time being’ in English. This phrase is often used to describe a person who acts as placeholder in the absence of a superior.
Upon roll call by Interim City Clerk Larry Brown, it was revealed that councilman Matthew Newsome was absent at the special meeting.
Following executive session, Councilman York Smith made a motion to appoint Councilwoman Judy Hamrick as Mayor Pro Tem.
Hamrick seconded the motion. The motion was approved with a vote of 2 for and 1 against. Councilwoman Sherry Hairston-Brown opposed the motion.
At this time, former Councilman Ricky Wilkerson approached the council, questioning Hamrick’s ability to vote for herself for the appointment of Mayor Pro Tem.
Wilkerson brought a copy of the Williamson City Charter to support his claim. Wilkerson referenced Section 19 of the Williamson City Charter as evidence that Hamrick was unable to vote for herself for the appointment of Mayor Pro Tem.
Councilwoman Hairston-Brown agreed with Wilkerson stating, “She can’t vote.”
In Section 19 of the Williamson City Charter concerning Council Meetings; Quorum; and Procedures it states, “Each member of the council shall be entitled one vote. But no member of the Council or the Mayor shall vote upon or take part in the consideration of any question, measure, or proposition in which he is or may be interested otherwise than as a resident of the city.”
Hamrick then withdrew her nomination saying, “I think we have a solution. I withdraw my nomination and I nominate (Councilman) Matthew Newsome to serve as Mayor Pro Tem.”
Brown conducted the motion, which was approved unanimously.
After the nomination to appoint Newsome as Mayor Pro Tem was approved, a debate ensued. Hamrick said, “The mayor before now was appointed in the same way it was done and it was done wrong, so we had an illegal mayor for 15 months.”
Hamrick also questioned Wilkerson’s motives for disrupting the meeting. “People need to understand that you (Wilkerson) want to run for mayor. I want to clarify where you are coming from,” Hamrick said.
Wilkerson responded saying, “I never said for 100 percent that I want to run for mayor. I want to see the city grow. You want to be mayor too.”
Hamrick agreed with Wilkerson saying, “Certainly. We have done a lot of work here and we would like to continue.”
At this point, a citizen in the back spoke up saying, “Everybody should be in harmony instead of going back and forth.”
Another member of the audience questioned the selection and appointment of Newsome asking, “Weren’t there other choices?”
Councilman York Smith said, “If I was a certified public accountant and had knowledge, I would take it. I’m a coal miner and I have served on here almost 20 years and have tried to do what is right for the city. If I was capable of taking that seat, I would be entitled to it. I want somebody that knows what they are doing.”
Hairston-Brown spoke up saying, “I told them that I would take it. I thought it was strange that the person who wanted it was not elected; she was put on (appointed) here. I didn’t think it was fair.”
The next Williamson City Council meeting is scheduled for Sept. 24, at 6:00 p.m.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2279.)