Mayoral elections not included in Smithfield charter changes

Published 3:07 pm Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Smithfield will continue choosing its mayor by a majority vote of its seven sitting Town Council members.

Council members in August had discussed changing the decades-old method to a direct election in August, but ultimately chose not to include the change in a slate of amendments the council approved on Sept. 5.

The slate of changes will next need to go before the Virginia General Assembly. Town Manager Michael Stallings said last month he’d been working with Del. Emily Brewer, R-Isle of Wight, to prepare a bill for when lawmakers reconvene in January.

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The most notable of the requested charter changes would officially move the specified date for council elections from May to November.

In 2021, the General Assembly passed a law mandating that any towns with May elections move them to the first Tuesday in November to coincide with the general election. The charter, which was last amended in 2000 and last substantially updated in 1982, still lists the May date.

Among the other changes is the striking of a 1982 provision authorizing the mayor to “take command of the police” and “deputize such assistant policemen as may be necessary” during “times of public danger or emergencies.”