Surry will make appointment, hold special election to fill vacancy

Published 2:19 pm Friday, March 19, 2021

Surry County’s Board of Supervisors plans to accept letters of interest through March 29 from qualified residents who wish to fill the seat of Carsley District Supervisor Kenneth Holmes, who resigned due to health reasons.

State code empowers the board to appoint someone to fill the vacancy within 45 days. That deadline is April 14.

The board’s four remaining members — chairman Robert Elliott, vice chairman Mike Drewry, Judy Lyttle and Tim Calhoun — formally and unanimously accepted Holmes’ resignation at an ad hoc virtual meeting on March 18.

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In his resignation letter, which was dated Feb. 28 and provided to The Smithfield Times by the county in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, Holmes said he was leaving his position effective immediately “with reluctance and some sadness” due to “illness accompanied by serious health challenges [that] have preempted my tenure and fervent desire to serve as Supervisor to the Carsley district.”

Holmes concluded the letter by saying: “It has truly been my pleasure to serve in this capacity and to work with all of you for the betterment of Surry County. Thank you so much for your understanding and support during this very challenging time.” The letter was signed by his power of attorney, Keinya H. Clay, and it did not give any further details regarding the circumstances of his health concerns.

William Hefty, a Richmond-based attorney serving as the board’s legal adviser, said during the approximately 30 minute long meeting that state code leaves the details of making the appointment to the discretion of the board. Elliott suggested soliciting residents of the Carsley District to submit letters of interest and personal and professional biographies for the board’s consideration for appointment to the vacant position.

If the board is not prepared to appoint someone at its regularly scheduled meeting on April 1, Elliott said the supervisors will call another unscheduled meeting before April 14 for the purpose of making a decision. If the board doesn’t decide before the deadline, state law says a circuit court judge may make an appointment.

The person chosen to fill the vacancy must be a resident of Surry County’s Carsley District at the time of the appointment and be a registered voter who is at least 18 years old. Information on how to formally express interest in the position is posted on the county’s website.

Hefty also recommended the supervisors petition the circuit court to hold a special election on Nov. 2, at the same time as the statewide general election, to fill the remainder of Holmes’ four-year term, which runs through 2023. The board unanimously approved Hefty’s recommendation.

Although the board formally accepted Holmes’ resignation on March 18, because Holmes dated his letter Feb. 28 and made his resignation effective immediately, Hefty told the elected officials it was best to err on the side of caution and use April 14 as the cutoff date for the appointment.

Holmes had missed 11 consecutive meetings since mid-August before stepping down. He first won the board’s Carsley seat in 2011. He ran unopposed in 2015, according to state election records. In 2019, Holmes was elected again, receiving 53% of the vote over one challenger. 

The board lauded Holmes’ service to the county before formally accepting his resignation.

“I feel like Mr. Holmes is a brother to me,” Lyttle said. “We’ve been working together, I think, longer than any of the other members of the board … Mr. Holmes was a true Surry person who loved his county, loved the people and did what he felt like was best for Surry County. I’m going to truly miss him and I wish him the best for his future.”

Calhoun, who was elected in 2019, said that although he hadn’t been on the board for long before Holmes’ health declined, the former supervisor “was very knowledgeable of where this county was and where it was going…I also pray that he has healthier days ahead.”

Elliott said a formal recognition of Holmes’ service to Surry County will be part of the board’s April 1 meeting.

Want to serve?
To express interest in being appointed to the Carsley District seat on the Surry County Board of Supervisors, send a letter of interest and a resume to Electronic submissions are preferred. You may also mail or hand deliver the information to the following address.

Surry County Board of Supervisors

Attn: Carsley District Appointment Interest

45 School St.

Surry, VA 23883

Submissions are due by 5 p.m. on March 29.