Mayor Seat to Remain Vacant

by Casey Mann, Senior Correspondent

The Siler City Board of Commissioners decided to leave the town’s mayoral seat vacant until next year. The board decided that rather than fill it with an appointee, it would leave it up to voters in the municipal election in 2021 to decide who should fill the seat that has been empty since long-time Mayor John Grimes passed away last month. All the duties of the mayoral role were conferred on the current Mayor Pro-Tem Cindy Bray.

The town’s upcoming municipal election will bring more than just a new mayor – it will also likely have new district lines. Following the results of the 2020 Census, the town will dive into redistricting which last occurred in 2011.

North Carolina requires municipalities to review their lines coinciding with the Census to determine if districts need to be redrawn to correct population imbalances. The districts must be similar in population and size, with boundaries following established lines of demarcation, such as roads.

Siler City has hired Tharrington Smith of Raleigh to manage the effort at a cost of $17,500. The district lines, if determined to require redrawing, must be completed within timelines that will be laid out by the state, but should be prior to the deadline for candidates who wish to file for seats in the municipal elections.

The Siler City Board of Commissioners consists of five commissioners voted on by district, two at-large commissioners, and the mayor. For the 2021 election, District 1 Commissioner Tony Siler, District 5 Commissioner Lewis Fadely, and At-Large Commissioner Cindy Bray are all up for re-election.

If and how district lines are drawn could affect those candidacies.

For example, if District 1 is redrawn and Mr. Siler is no longer considered “in the district,” he would be ineligible to run. At the same time, the remaining commissioners on the board, whose elections are not until 2023, may find themselves representing districts they no longer live in as well.

The exact timeline for the process depends on the release of the Census data and guidance from the state, according to Siler City Town Manager Roy Lynch. Tharrington Smith will then identify possible changes to the election districts and prepare up to three alternative redistricting plans which will be presented to the board. The final redistricting plan will need to be approved by the board prior to the filing period for the 2021 municipal elections which begins in July.