The Town Council chose Monday to wait another week before deciding whether and with whom to fill a vacant seat.
Six residents – Kevin Hicks, Adam Jones, Paul Neebe, Michael Parker, Amy Ryan and Gary Shaw – have applied to fill the seat that Matt Czajkowski left in March.
Czajkowski’s term expires in December, and his replacement, if appointed, would have to run in the November election to continue serving.
Councilwoman Donna Bell was absent Monday, prompting Council members George Cianciolo and Maria Palmer to say they would prefer everyone be present for the vote.
That’s never going to be guaranteed, Councilman Jim Ward said, and isn’t enough to delay a vote. Reversing his stance last week that voters should fill the seat in November, Ward said Monday the council should go ahead and decide.
“Based on the candidates that we have to choose from and their extensive experience and involvement as citizens,” he said, “I think the people I have in mind are well equipped to hit the ground running on the major issues that I see before us.”
He failed to gain support for an immediate vote.
Councilman Lee Storrow announced later that he would miss the May 11 meeting, but it shouldn’t stop the council from voting.
Town rules require the council to consider the vacancy at every meeting until someone is appointed or voters elect a new member. An applicant must receive five council votes to be appointed.
Six citizens spoke Monday – three in favor of Ryan and two for Parker. Gary Kahn, who unsuccessfully applied to fill a vacancy when former Councilwoman Penny Rich left in 2012 to become a county commissioner, argued for waiting until November and letting the people decide.
Lynn Kane noted there are several qualified candidates, but Parker is “outstanding and knowledgeable.”
“He really has a deep understanding of what would be good for all of Chapel Hill,” she said, “and I have seen him make decisions that really take into account all of Chapel Hill.”
Ryan also could “jump in and go to work” on projects the council could face this year, said Jane Kirsch, who then read from a statement prepared by the citizens group Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town.
“While the council has made appointments in cases when a seat would be vacant for a long time, in this case, there are only four months of actual meetings before the term ends,” she said, reading from the CHALT statement. “In the event the council decides to appoint, it should appoint Amy Ryan, who placed fifth in the 2013 council election and therefore has the support of the citizens of Chapel Hill.”
The Town Council will consider whether to appoint someone to fill the remainder of Matt Czajkowski’s term on Monday, May 11. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.