Validity of Frankford council appointments uncertain

The Frankford Town Council held a second special meeting last week in order to appoint residents to the Town’s two vacant council seats.

On Aug. 3 Jesse Truitt resigned during the town’s monthly council meeting. His departure was followed by Velicia Melson’s letter of resignation on Aug. 11. According to the town charter, the positions must be filled within 45 days from the date of resignation. Truitt’s seat must be filled by Sept. 17, while Melson’s must be filled by Sept. 25.

The special meeting on Aug. 17 was also to appoint two residents to the vacant seats; however, they did not fill the seats because there was not a quorum.

The Town’s Rules of Procedure specifies that “three affirmative votes shall be required to approve any matter within the jurisdiction of the agency.”

At the Aug. 11 meeting, the council only had two of the three votes needed to appoint residents to fill the vacant seats. At the Aug. 26 meeting, it was announced that residents Marty Presley, Skip Ash, Elizabeth Carpenter, Dayna Aliberti and Dora Bell had all sent letters of interest about filling the seats.

“It’s wonderful to see so much interest in joining the town council,” said Council President Joanne Bacon to an audience of approximately 15 attendees. “Unfortunately, we can only fill two seats, but I do encourage the ones not appointed tonight to joint our committees, attend our meetings and become involved in the Town of Frankford. I think it’s very important that we hear all voices.”

Councilman Charles Shelton made a motion to appoint Aliberti and Bell to the vacant positions, but his motion was not seconded.

Councilwoman Pam Davis made a motion to appoint Carpenter to finish out Melson’s term, expiring in 2017, and Presley to fulfill Truitt’s term, ending in February 2016, with Bacon seconding. Davis and Bacon voted to appoint the two to the seats, with Shelton voting against.

“We have a little quagmire because of the email we received from the prior attorney, Mr. Schrader,” said Bacon of the communication that informed the council that a vote of all three sitting council members would be required to approve something. “We did not get that.”

Bacon then turned the meeting over to Davis and turned the council’s attention to Rule 10.1, “Any rule of the agency may be changed or suspended by the approval of a majority of all the members of the Agency.”

“At this point in time, we only have three members of our agency,” said Bacon. “I would like to make a motion to approve Rule 10.1, ‘Any rule of the agency may be changed or suspended by the approval of a majority of all the members of the Agency.’ And at this point in time, we only have three members of our agency.”

Bacon then turned the meeting back over to herself and called for a second, which was provided by Davis.

The vote was 2-0 in favor of the motion, with Davis and Bacon in favor, while Shelton was absent.

“That means we’re suspending Rule 5.5,” stated Bacon following the divided vote, “and placing back into the quorum according to the Charter the majority of the entire council, which at this point in time are only three members.”

She then asked for another motion to appoint residents to fill the vacancies. Davis again made the motion to appoint Presley and Carpenter, which was seconded by Bacon.

The motion received two affirmative votes from Bacon and Davis.

“That being said, it is of my opinion that Elizabeth Carpenter and Marty Presley are now the new council members for the Town of Frankford, to replace Jesse Truitt and Velicia Melson,” said Bacon following the vote. The meeting was then adjourned.

Following the meeting, there was confusion as to whether the appointments were valid, as not all of the three sitting council members had voted in favor of suspending the Town’s Rules of Procedure, nor was a motion specifically to suspend what constitutes a quorum actually made and approved.

The Frankford Town Council will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Frankford fire hall.