Wilson County Commissioners must find a new commissioner, as one of their own resigned his seat recently.
According to County Mayor Randall Hutto, Commissioner Adam Bannach, who represented District 18, has informed Hutto of his intent to resign his seat.
“A couple of weeks ago we put our house on the market to move to a new house which is close but happens to be in a different district in Wilson County,” said Bannach in an email to Hutto and dated Nov. 25. “Our house is still for sale, and while I have loved serving our neighbors and friends over the last 11 years, I sadly now plan to resign my seat. I hope to be able to give back to this great county and its wonderful citizens again by serving with my friends and fellow commissioners in the future.”
Hutto notified commissioners Nov. 26 of Bannach’s impending resignation.
“Commissioner Bannach has served Wilson County and his constituents well over during his time on the County Commission,” said Hutto in an email to commissioners. “We are sad to hear of his resignation, but understand family comes first. I have personally enjoyed working with him as a County Commissioner and Road Commissioner these past three plus years, and would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his service to our county and its citizens.”
With Bannach’s resignation, county commissioners must begin the process of filling his seat for the remainder of his term, which ends Aug. 31.
• Public notice must run in the newspaper a minimum of 7 days prior to the Commission meeting, when the vacancy will be filled, advertising the position to be filled. (This notice would have to run no later than Jan. 20.)
• Registered voters of District 18 are allowed to submit names for consideration (either at the Commission meeting or to the county mayor prior to the meeting).
• Individuals to be considered for the position must be nominated by a County Commissioner. Nominations do not require a second.
• After nominations cease, the individuals nominated may be given an opportunity to address the county commission briefly.
• Voting will be done on paper ballots.
• An individual will have to receive a simple majority, which would be 13, to be elected.
• The individual selected will begin their duties as soon as they have been sworn in.
Bannach also served as a road commissioner for Zone 2, so his resignation from the county commission also creates a vacancy on the Wilson County Road Commission.
According to state law the county commission must fill the vacancy within 120 days, which means the seat must be filled at the February meeting.
Hutto explained that before reapportionment, the road commission’s Zone 2 contained Districts 1, 2, 4, 8, 10, 18 and 22, which will be used to fill the road commission vacancy unless Commission votes to use the reapportioned zone per state law.
This position would be filled in the February commission meeting to allow the newly selected Commissioner from District 18 to be considered if they desire. This election must be conducted on paper ballots and will require a simple majority as well.
Nominations only come from the county commission; the general public does not participate in this process.
The individual selected will serve the unexpired term, which runs through July 2016, if they are successful in the August 2014 Commission election.
Bannach’s situation prompted further questions from commissioners about the county commission’s residency requirements, so the county Ethics Committee met Monday for further discussions.
Newly appointed Ethics Committee Chairman Frank Bush said “the purpose for discussion was initiated by questions regarding the residency requirements” that allow a person to serve on the commission. A draft resolution was presented for discussion.
Commissioner Gary Keith asked the committee if a complaint had been filed regarding a residency issue. Bush said that “at the present time” there were no complaints filed.
“How do you address something when no complaint has been filed?” Keith asked.
“The timing is useful,” said Bush. “We are six or seven months away from elections. It is appropriate to discuss the issue.”
The resolution proposed that, within five days, a commissioner must notify the mayor in writing of a change of residence. If a commissioner failed to give proper notice, then the resolution calls for “any votes recorded by a commissioner during a breach will be investigated by proper judicial authority as to their validity,” said Bush.
Commissioner Bernie Ash, who attended the meeting, said “the resolution appears to be doing what the state law already does. I don’t think we can make resolutions like that.”
One paragraph in the resolution mentioned notifying the mayor when a person “becomes aware of” a relocation.
County Attorney Mike Jennings said, “You need to pay particular attention to that paragraph. I think that is extremely dangerous. This is not necessary; the law is the law.”
He added that the way the resolution reads, “we are making a legislative body a judicial body. I think we are on a slippery slope.”
“What we are trying to do here is help everybody understand the definition of residency. Upon the event of relocating, by virtue of the Attorney General’s opinion, that position becomes vacant. We are trying to define a couple of events, we are not making a decision here.”
Commissioner Wendell Marlowe, who was observing the discussions, said “according to what this committee is supposed to be doing, isn’t this something that should go to the rules committee?”
Keith added, “You are violating your own rules here. It clearly says that if there is no written complaint, you shouldn’t even be meeting.”
At the close of the meeting, the committee members voted to send the draft of the resolution to the Rules Committee.