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Keyser City Council again delays appointment for vacant seat

Staff Writer
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Mineral Daily News-Tribune

By Liz Beavers

Tribune Managing Editor

KEYSER - With only two people expressing interest in the position and only two council members available to vote Wednesday evening, the Keyser City Council once again delayed making an appointment to fill the vacant seat on their panel.

The seat has been vacant since early September, when Billy Zacot resigned. Mayor Damon Tillman did not have a recommendation for an appointment at the Sept. 23 meeting, and instead asked for anyone interested in serving to write a letter of interest to the council prior to the next meeting.

Wednesday, Tillman said there were only two letters received.

“It’s kind of disheartening that we only got two letters for city council, but I can understand why,” he said, apparently referring to the criticism he and his council members have taken since being elected to office.

According to Tillman, the two letters were from James Lough and Elwood Junkins, who were both on the ballot in the July 28 election in which Jim Hannas, Mike Ryan and Billy Meek were the top vote-getters.

With Meek absent from Wednesday’s meeting, however, and Jennifer Junkins recusing herself from the vote since she is married to Elwood Junkins, that only left two council members to vote.

When the question of a quorum was raised, Tillman read a section of the city charter that stated that four members of council or the mayor and three members of council constitute a quorum, but two members of council and the mayor could vote on issues in the case of a tie.

Ryan said he felt they should “hold off” on the vote when Meek could be present, however.

“Mr. Mayor, you’re making the appointment, do you want to hold off?” Hannas asked Tillman.

“I feel we need to get it done,” Tillman replied.

“But we had an empty seat for six months,” Ryan noted, to which Tillman replied, “There was a reason for that.”

(When the council did not fill the seat vacated by Terry Liller’s resignation last fall, Tillman explained later that it was left open in case the ongoing litigation with former council woman Karol Ashenfelter resulted in her being reinstated.)

“Well, I’m not going to sit here and waste time,” Tillman said after a period of silence. “This is just why we don’t get anything done!”

The appointment will be placed on the agenda for the next meeting, scheduled for Oct. 28.