By Kathy Jefcoats
FOREST PARK — A special election has been set March 19 to fill the vacancy left by retired Mayor Corine Deyton and possibly the Ward 1 seat, depending on a decision by Councilwoman Sparkle Adams.
Adams said last month she plans to resign her seat to run for mayor but she has until Feb. 1 to decide. City Manager John Parker said Monday morning the deadline allows him to place the opening for Ward 1 seat on the same ballot, if Adams resigns.
Council met for the first time this year in a 10 a.m. work session, a departure from last year's 6:30 p.m. meeting. The regular meeting will be held tonight at 7 p.m. where Council will vote on the items.
If Adams resigns, the city will be left briefly with three council members — not enough for a quorum vote under the charter, said Parker.
Parker introduced a limited-time amendment to the city ordinance governing the quorum, which will be officially read into the record at tonight's meeting. The second reading will be Jan. 22. If approved, the ordinance will allow the city to conduct business with three elected officials, as opposed to five, until the March election.
The Ward 2 seat has been vacant since Council ousted Karen-Brandee Williams in July 2011 and won't be filled in March, said Parker. Williams' appeal of the vote is being considered by Clayton County Superior Court Chief Judge Deborah Benefield.
"Ward 2 will not be included in the March special election because we have not received a decision from the court," said Parker. "Even if we got a decision today, there is a 30-day period of appeal and there wouldn't be enough time to get it on the ballot."
Parker said the amendment will allow one person to act as presiding officer with the power to vote. Typically, the mayor votes only to break a tie. Forest Park is without a mayor but Council appointed Linda Lord mayor pro tem Monday. Council agreed last year to rotate the seat based on seniority.
Lord will preside over the meetings with fellow Council members Adams, Maudie McCord and Latresa Akins.
Parker said the last day to call the election is during the Feb. 4 meeting, at which time officials will know if there are one or two seats to fill in March. Qualifying for the election will be held from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., with a lunch break every day from 12 p.m.-1 p.m., starting Monday, Feb. 11, and continuing each day until Friday, Feb. 15.
The qualifying fee for mayor is $943. The fee for a Council seat, if needed, is $612.
The last day to register to vote in this election is Feb. 19, because Feb. 18 is a holiday.