Process set for filling Hall’s, Rountree’s Town Council seats
Published 5:18 pm Friday, November 10, 2023
Residents interested in filling two available seats on Smithfield’s Town Council have three weeks to submit an application.
Councilwoman Renee Rountree, who was elected on Nov. 7 to the Smithfield-centric District 1 seat on Isle of Wight County’s Board of Supervisors, will be required to resign from her council seat prior to taking office as a supervisor, according to Town Manager Michael Stallings.
The same day as Rountree’s electoral win, ex-councilman Wayne Hall resigned after being arrested and charged with groping a woman.
Under state law, when a vacancy occurs in a local governing body, the remaining members have 45 days to appoint a qualified voter to fill the seat until a special election is held. All Town Council seats are at-large, meaning any registered voter residing within the town’s limits is eligible for interim appointment.
The town has created a downloadable “talent bank” form, available at https://www.smithfieldva.gov/library/view/691/talent-bank-form, for interested residents to apply for the vacancies. Applicants are to complete the form and return it to Town Clerk Lesley King either by emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org or in person at 911 S. Church St.
On Nov. 8, Mayor Steve Bowman appointed Vice Mayor Valerie Butler and Councilman Randy Pack to a committee tasked with vetting the applicants.
According to Stallings, the committee will meet separately from the full council to review the submitted applications. The review meetings will be private, but the committee will then make its recommendations to the full council at a public meeting, likely by December, Stallings said.
Bowman, at the Nov. 8 meeting, called the nomination form a “first step.”
“That does not preclude any member of council whatsoever from making a nomination,” Bowman said, noting that nominations by any member of council are also an option if the body is not satisfied with the committee’s recommendations.
Assuming the committee returns its recommendations by December, Rountree as a still-sitting member of council would be able to vote on her replacement and Hall’s, unless she chooses to abstain, Bowman said.
Rountree said she doesn’t expect to be sworn in as a supervisor until sometime in January.
Town Attorney William Riddick said a special election would likely not be held until November of next year. Rountree’s seat is already set to be on the general election ballot in 2024, as her current term will expire at the end of next year.
The seat vacated by Hall, who was reelected to a four-year term in 2022, would have a two-year remainder as of November 2024.