Athey’s Bill to Fill Vacancies for Local Offices Passes House

Bill Provides That Vacancies in Cities and Towns Shall Be Filled by Special Elections

Richmond, Wednesday February 11, 2009 – Del. Clifford “Clay” Athey, Jr. (R-Warren), Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, announced today that his bill to filling vacancies in certain local offices and special elections passed 99-0 by the House of Delegates.

The following is a summary of HB -1780:

HB 1780 – Elections; filling vacancies in certain local offices; special elections.  Provides that vacancies in a governing body or elected school board shall be filled by special election notwithstanding any other statutory or charter provision to the contrary; thus overriding charter provisions that may allow a governing body or school board to appoint a person to serve the entire remaining portion of a term.

Athey said that his bill will ensure that the citizens within any town or city have the final word, through their vote, in deciding who is elected to represent them. “This bill arose out of an Attorney General’s opinion confirming the Front Royal town attorney’s opinion that because Councilman Shae Parker was appointed by his fellow councilmen as opposed to being elected by his fellow citizens, he was forbidden by the Virginia Constitution and over sixty state statutes from casting a vote on any issue involving the expenditure of money, the setting of a tax rate, or the issuance of debt,” Athey said.

“My HB 1780, if passed by the State Senate and signed by Governor Kaine, will ensure that any vacancy in a local office going forward will be filled by a Special Election wherein the people will decide who is best to represent their interests in elected office. I am grateful that my colleagues in the House unanimously supported my proposal to require Special Elections even though the Virginia Municipal League, representing Virginia’s towns and cities opposed my bill and demanded that the bill be amended to permit local councils to continue to fill vacancies by defining appointed officials as elected officials which in my judgment would be dishonest,” Athey said.

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