Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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Mebane city council names Katie Burkholder to fill remaining two years of Patty Philipps’ term


Mebane’s city council acted Monday night to appoint Katie Burkholder, the runner-up in last November municipal elections, to replace Patty Philipps who has resigned to move to Oriental in eastern North Carolina.

Philipps announced her intent to resign at the end of the council’s February meeting, effective for the end of the March 7 meeting.

After councilman Tim Bradley began to talk Monday night about the possibility of continuing a council tradition of appointing the next highest vote-getter from the preceding election, Alamance News publisher Tom Boney, Jr., present to cover the meeting, raised the question of whether state law allowed the council to appoint someone when the vacancy did not yet actually exist.

Philipps was still on the dais toward the end of the meeting, when the issue of selecting her replacement came up on the council’s agenda.

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Philipps then offered to make her resignation effective immediately, which the council unanimously accepted. Philipps then stepped down from the dais and took a seat in the audience.

Bradley then continued by formalizing a motion to appoint the next highest vote-getter, Burkholder, to succeed Philipps.

Burkholder, who was present in the audience, responded to city attorney Lawson Brown’s inquiry as to whether she was willing to accept the appointment, which she was.  The remaining four council members (Tim Bradley, Sean Ewing, Montrena Hadley, and Jonathan White) voted unanimously for Burkholder.

She will be sworn in at the council’s April meeting, on April 4.

Last November Burkholder placed fourth for the three available council seats, running 128 votes behind third-place finisher Montrena Hadley.  Long-time incumbent Tim Bradley had 986 votes from both Alamance and Orange counties; Jonathan White received 950; and Hadley won with 853.  Burkholder placed fourth with 725; Charles Lopez had 702; and Roger Parker had 381. For White, Hadley, Burkholder, and Lopez, it was their first run for public office.


Background, history, and practice

Bradley noted during comments Monday night that the council had a tradition, or at least a practice, of appointing the runner-up to a city council vacancy.

Most recently, in 2019, Bradley noted, the council appointed Everette Greene, who had lost his bid for re-election that November, to fill the remaining two years of Ed Hooks’ council seat after Hooks, previously a city councilman, was elected as the city’s mayor.

In 2003, Philipps was herself the beneficiary of being appointed.  She had been the runner-up in the 2001 election in which she placed fourth for three available seats, running behind by just 21 votes to incumbent councilman Hooks. Then-councilman Bob Hupman led the voting that year, followed by Bradley and Hooks.

In naming a new member in 2003, however, the council solicited applications and received six who asked to be considered to replace Alice Bordsen, a sitting Mebane city council member who had been elected in November 2002 to the state house.

When the council turned to the issue of who to appoint among the six applicants in January 2003, it was Hooks who had narrowly survived in 2001, who nominated Philipps to succeed Bordsen.  She was then unanimously voted in by Hooks, Bradley, Hupman, and then-councilman Henry Johns.

While Philipps was present at the January 2003 council meeting, the then-clerk Elaine Hicks had not brought a Bible or the oath of office,  prerequisites for a swearing-in.  So Philipps was sworn in at the council’s February 2003 meeting.

That November, Philipps won a four-year term in her own right, leading the balloting for the two seats at stake that year.

In 2005, when another vacancy occurred, on June 7 before that November’s elections, the council opted not to appoint a successor to Henry Johns, 74, who had resigned effective on that date, saying he and his wife were moving to Georgia.

Instead, a two-year term was on the ballot that year – in addition to the normal rotation of three, four-year council seats – and was won by Everette Greene, at the time a 19-year veteran of the city’s planning board and its then-chairman.  Greene went on to serve on the city council until 2021, when he stepped down at the end of the 2-year term to which he was appointed in 2019.

Read council’s send-off to 19-year veteran council member Patty Philipps, whose last meeting as a member of the council was Monday night:

Other Mebane news in this week’s edition:

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