How a Chapel Hill Town Council Vacancy is Filled

With the impending resignation of Chapel Hill Town Council member Matt Czajkowski, the OP Editors thought it might be useful to revisit exactly what happens in the case of a vacancy. The relevent code falls under Chapter 2, Article II of the town code of ordinances.

Since Czajkowski's seat is up for election this year, any person filling the seat would do so only until his successor is elected in the municipal election this fall.

Sec. 2-25. - Announcement of vacancy; publication of notice. 
When a vacancy occurs, the mayor shall announce the vacancy at the next regular or special meeting of the council. The council shall at the same meeting set a deadline for applications for the vacant seat, which deadline shall be no less than seven (7) days and no more than thirty (30) days after publication of a notice of the vacancy. The mayor shall direct the clerk to have the notice of the vacancy published in a newspaper of general circulation by the seventh day after the date on which the mayor announced the vacancy. If the office of the mayor is vacant, the mayor protempore shall perform the duties of the mayor under this section.

The notice of a vacant office shall invite residents who are registered voters and otherwise qualified to hold the office to file an application with the town clerk by the deadline set by the council. If the mayor fills the vacancies under North Carolina General Statute Section 160A-63 because a quorum of the council cannot be obtained, the mayor shall determine an application deadline which shall be no less than seven (7) and no more than thirty (30) days after publication of the notice of vacancy.

(Ord. No. 86-2-24/O-49, § 1)

Sec. 2-26. - Applications. 
Applications for a vacancy shall include the name, residence address, and signature of the applicant. The applicant may include information in support of the application if the applicant wishes. The application may but need not be on a form provided by the town clerk. Applications shall be submitted to the clerk's office.

(Ord. No. 86-2-24/O-4a, § 1)

Sec. 2-27. - Consideration of applications; nominations. 
Promptly after the deadline for applications, the mayor shall cause copies of the applications to be distributed to the council.

At the next regular meeting of the council, or at a special meeting which may be called at the discretion of the council, the council shall review the applications and council members may make nominations. All nominations under this article shall be made only from applications received by the application deadline.

(Ord. No. 86-2-24/O-4a, § 1)

Sec. 2-28. - Appointments. 
At the next regular meeting or at a special meeting which shall be at least six (6) days after the meeting at which nominations may have been made as provided in section 2-27, the council may make additional nominations and may make an appointment to fill the vacancy. If the council does not make the appointment at such a meeting, the council shall make nominations and vote on the appointment at each subsequent meeting, whether regular or special, in which the appointment may be made under the council's rules of procedure.


The Council can't formally start the appointment process until April 13, the first regular business meeting after Matt's announced date of resignation.  I can't see any other meetings on the April calendar before then, but we never know. 

I applied for the last vacancy when Penny Rich left, hopefully no former council person will want their job back. Gary Kahn

Probably public record, but it seemed to be quite a few.

Does the public get to endores an application at the public meeting? Woudl that make any difference?


I'm not sure of the exact number John, but I bet Jason would know.

I am interested in your second question. When the Chapel Hill Carrboro School Board filled the seat vacated by Commissioner Mia Burroughs each applicant had to provide (I think) 3 letters of support. In addition, the school board accepted other letters from the public on applicants behalves (I submitted one). Has that been done when filling a CHTC vacancy? How much weight do they carry?

In regards to numbers, it has been around ten people who have applied when vacancies have occurred before. Not all of the people who apply choose to go through the entire process. Some withdraw, or choose to support other candidates for the position. I offered my name for the 2009 vacancy, for example, before ultimately deciding to support Donna Bell.

I don't think the council has requested letters of support directly from the candidates in the recent past, but like any other topic, they do get letters from citizens expressing opinions on both who to appoint and how to go about the appointment process. I'm not sure that there's any way to objectively quantify how much weight this carries, other than to just generally say that I'm sure council members consider the input of the public just as they would with any other decision they make.

Including myself, i think there were 7 others which included Sally Greene,Maria Palmer,Loren Hintz,Paul Neebe,and a few more which I cant remember. Gary Kahn

I put my name in the hat a few times to replace someone who had resigned. Most candidates provided the Council with back ground information and issues they were concerned with. Candidates also spoke to the Council about their interest. (I think we had the usual 3 minute limit.) Sometimes individual Council members contact candidates and ask them questions. During Council meetings candidates were not asked questions and there was not discussion. Council would vote until a candidate received a majority vote ( at least 5 out of 8 votes.) The regular meeting would continue as the ballots were counted.


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