Village council debates mayoral appointments

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By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

The village of Urbancrest will likely be without a code enforcement officer at the beginning of the year.

At the Dec. 10 meeting, a majority of the council declined the mayoral recommendation to reappoint Randall Bogue to fulfill the duties of the village’s code enforcement officer. Bogue has held the position since 2016.

The decision, said the council, stems from the wording on the agenda which requests the appointment be passed as an emergency.

“We do this every year,” said Alicia Wiggins.

A motion was passed to make the recommendation have three readings. They will revisit the request in February.

Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr., who was not present at the meeting, later said he was disappointed in the council’s decision, calling Bogue an important figure in upcoming legislation and zoning issues.

“There are a lot of cases that are now open that he has been working on,” Barnes said. “Now all of that hard work will be put on hold.”

He added that he hoped council would revisit the appointment in January rather than February.

“Mr. Bogue has been a great asset to this community,” he said. “He has put our code system in order and brought it up to date.

“He always goes by the book, and never turns a blind eye or deaf ear on anyone or any situation.”

The Dec. 10 meeting was not the first time the issue of mayoral appointments and the use of ‘and to declare an emergency’ has risen at a council meeting. There was a lengthy discussion about this topic at the December meeting last year.

During that debate, council said they wanted time to evaluate the performance of the appointee and their approval should not be rushed at the end of the year. As noted at that meeting, council has the authority to change the timing of performance evaluations but have yet to revisit the legislation.

Barnes said regardless, it falls under his duties as mayor to appoint candidates to fulfill certain roles in the village, and the council to raise objections to their body of work.

“They didn’t do that here,” Barnes said “because there are no objections to his performance.”

However, councilwoman Deborah Larkins-Jackson said she voted to suspend the declaration of an emergency appointment to give more people the opportunity to voice interest in the position.

The reappointment of law director Rodd S. Lawrence was also debated. Initially, the majority council voted to make the request three readings, which would have left the village without a law director until February at the latest.

Fiscal officer Kathy Thimmes told council members that the timing was not ideal as there is pending litigation.

“We need Rodd from the very first week in January,” she said.

When asked about the litigation after the meeting, Lawrence said it stems from the village’s desire to terminate a tax abatement agreement and the company’s desire that they reconsider doing so.

“The agreement is set to expire so that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

After an executive session to discuss the pending litigation, council voted to reappoint Lawrence to the position of law director for the 2020 calendar year.

The mayoral appointment of Edward Banks to the position of street commission was accepted at the meeting, as was the appointment of Sandra Saunders and S. Henry Warr to the planning commission. Donna Bogue’s appointment to the board of zoning appeals was also accepted. All of those positions were passed with the emergency declaration.

In other news, Larkins-Jackson will take the second council seat available from the Nov. 5 election after a favorable coin toss. She and Warr had tied at 51 votes apiece, which automatically resulted in a recount. The recount, which was done by board of election officials, determined those numbers were accurate and no votes were missing. That promoted the use of a coin toss to determine the outcome, and Larkins-Jackson was determined the winner. She will join Steven Larkins, Shawn Moore, Alicia Skinner, Alicia Wiggins and Nikky Ziglar-Zimmerman on council.

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