With Beckley Mayor Emmett Pugh set to resign Dec. 31, members of Common Council are trying to decide how to fill his post. But City Attorney Bill File said until there is a vacancy, no official action can be taken.

File said that both the city charter and the state code state that in the event of a vacancy, remaining members of Council are to appoint someone to fill that vacancy.  

“It can be a member of council, but it is not required,” File added.

He said this is “not a complicated procedure.” Council will simply vote on a new mayor after Pugh resigns.

In the meantime, File said nothing prohibits council from seeking resumes or hosting workshops to prepare themselves for the transition.

“The majority should decide what they want to do,” File said.

He said that council may want to decide on the qualities, experience and vision they want to see in a new mayor, but that decision is entirely up to the members.

File also noted that nothing prohibits council from accepting resumes prior to the mayor’s resignation.

The discussion of whether to select a new mayor from the current members of council or to offer the public the opportunity to submit resumes was started at the Aug. 27 Common Council meeting when Ward 1 Councilman Tom Sopher proposed a series of workshops to aid in the mayoral selection.

He suggested one workshop per month, which included the collection and review of resumes from both current council members and the public.

Councilman Chris Hall agrees that resumes should be accepted from anyone interested in the position, but he suggests delaying the process until the end of October to postpone “inevitable division as folks jockey for the job.”

A vote has not yet been taken to decide whether council will host workshops to aid in the mayoral selection; several council members say they first must reach a majority decision on whether to open the application process to the public.

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com

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