The Cary Town Council is divided on whether to fill the council seat that will soon be vacated by Gale Adcock, who was elected last week to the state House of Representatives.
Adcock, a Democrat who has served on the council since 2007, beat Rep. Tom Murry, a Morrisville Republican, in the race to represent western Wake County in House District 41. The House term starts Jan. 1.
Adcock’s four-year term on the town council representing District D ends in December 2015. The seat for District D, located in central Cary, is up for election in October. Candidates can file to run as early as July.
State law says the council is responsible for filling vacant seats, but it doesn’t say how it should be filled or set a deadline for doing so.
“Most people feel like it should be done, but there’s no real consequence if they don’t,” said Frayda Bluestein, a professor of public law and government at UNC’s School of Government.
The council is scheduled to decide whether to replace Adcock during a work session Tuesday.
The political balance of the nonpartisan Cary Town Council could be at stake. With Adock on board, the council has three Democrats, three Republicans and one unaffiliated member.
While some council members say they have a duty to appoint a representative for Adcock’s district, others fear an appointment process would be too contentious and time-consuming.
“I think it would become political very quickly, and that’s something we really don’t need on council,” Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said Monday.
Weinbrecht, who has a vote, said he’s undecided about what the council should do.
But some of his colleagues have opinions on how to proceed.
“We have a great opportunity to tap the intellectual capital that’s so prevalent in Cary,” said Councilwoman Lori Bush, who wants to appoint someone to the seat.
Historically, the Cary Town Council has handled vacancies differently, depending on how much time is left in the vacated member’s term.
Former councilwoman Julie Robison had about two years left in her term when she resigned in 2012 to move for her husband’s job. The town decided to take applications for the at-large seat. They received 59 applications, and 31 days after Robison resigned, the council voted 4-2 to appoint Ed Yerha to her seat.
In 2011, Councilman Erv Portman resigned to accept an appointment to the Wake County Board of Commissioners. Portman’s resignation came four months ahead of the next election for his seat, so the council left it open.
Adcock said Tuesday she doesn’t have an opinion on the matter.
“I trust them to make the right decision,” she said.