Spencer picks White to fill vacancy on town board

Published 9:37 pm Tuesday, January 8, 2019

SPENCER — In a divided vote Tuesday, the Board of Aldermen appointed Howard White to fill a vacant seat on the town’s governing board.

The spot was formerly filled by Kevin Jones, who won a seat on the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education in November’s election. After serving on the town board since 2011, Jones resigned Nov. 13.

On Tuesday, White, a former member of the board, was appointed to Jones’ former seat after receiving votes from three of the five town council members — Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Hovis and board members David Lamanno and David Smith. Mayor Jim Gobbel did not vote because there was no tie.

White attended Tuesday’s meeting for a time and told the board during the public-comment period he wanted to be appointed to the open seat, but he left Town Hall before the vote.

During his comments early in the meeting, White said vacancies on the board “should always come back to the citizens one way or another.” And working in White’s favor was the fact that he finished seventh in the 2017 Board of Aldermen election, just missing the cutoff for a seat.

In Spencer, the top six candidates are elected to the board. Smith received 196 votes in 2017, finishing just ahead of White, who received 173 votes.

Lamanno advocated for White, saying he felt that the vote-getter just below the cutoff should be offered the seat.

“I would want that consideration,” he said.

Also receiving votes Tuesday evening was Jonathan Williams, chairman of the town Planning Board. Board of Aldermen members Sylvia Chillcott and Mike Boone voted for Williams.

Gobbel said Williams won an earlier election to the Board of Aldermen, but Jones, still a board member at the time, was among those voting in favor. As a result, the vote was invalidated.

When he spoke during a public-comment period at the start of the meeting, Williams told board members he would “see you in November.”

Asked after the meeting about his plans for Spencer’s 2019 municipal election, Williams was noncommittal, saying only that he is strongly considering it.