Front Royal vote on town charter postponed to Nov. 13 council meeting
The Warren SentinelFRONT ROYAL. Oct. 22 — A much-anticipated vote to amend the town’s charter that includes moving council elections to November was postponed Monday following a public hearing with no speakers.
Vice Mayor Shae Parker made a motion to postpone the vote on the charter change until the council’s Nov. 13 meeting. Councilman Bret Hrbek seconded the motion.
Councilman Tom Sayre tried to make an amendment to the motion to postpone, asking that town elections be move to odd years in November.
Mayor Tim Darr, supported by Town Attorney Doug Napier, disallowed Sayre’s amendment.
“Moving the elections to odd years cannot be part of this motion,” Darr said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate to move it to odd years as part of the motion to postpone.”
Sayre said he understood that the matter would ultimately be postponed, but said he’d like to have seen the council take a vote on odd-year elections.
Most of the changes proposed within the charter revision are of a housekeeping variety, removing redundant and antiquated language.
But two issues related to elections have been a source of controversy among the members. The first is whether to hold elections in November in odd years, following state elections, or in even years, sometimes coinciding with national elections. The second issue has been more subtle, but has shifted during the discussions.
In a Sept. 24 work session, it appeared the majority of council members were in favor of spelling out in the town’s charter that its elections will remain non-partisan.
The town’s elections have traditionally been non-partisan. Under the Hatch Act, federal employees such as Darr, who works at the Pentagon, would be barred from running for office in a partisan election.
Two weeks later, in an Oct. 1 meeting, there seemed to be a shift. Councilmen Tom Sayre and Hollis Tharpe were hesitant about the non-partisan change. Councilman Daryl Funk said he preferred the “charter remain silent on the issue.”
“We did not have to vote on this tonight, but in the absence of a member, it could have changed the entire outcome of the vote,” Parker said after the meeting. “I’m very happy I serve with gentlemen on this council who honored the fact that a member was absent and allowing him to have a full say in the process of changing a very important town document.”