A divided Mebane city council this week voted 3-2 to appoint the city’s mayor, Ed Hooks, as the council’s second ex officio member of a Main Street Program board of directors.
Mebane is taking all the steps to join the state-sponsored Main Street program. As a part of that transition, an advisory committee that has served that purpose will now become a provisional board of directors. To make the transition, the provisional board of directors was slated to have two city council members as ex officio (or non-voting) members.
At the June city council meeting, the council agreed to appoint the newest council member, Katie Burkholder, as one of the two ex officio members.
But council members were divided on the second appointment.
Council member Montrena Hadley had motioned last month to appoint fellow councilman Sean Ewing, but mayor pro tem Tim Bradley wanted to see mayor Ed Hooks as the second appointment, saying it would improve the prestige and profile of the Main Street group.
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“I have no problem with the quality of the nominees,” he said of Hadley’s initial motion for Burkholder and Ewing. But then he questioned whether Ewing’s advocacy on some downtown issues would undermine the credibility of the Main Street organization.
Bradley did not mention it, but Ewing is also the Democratic nominee for state senate, having filed to run against Republican state senator Amy Galey.
Bradley suggested that by appointing the mayor, it would demonstrate the city council’s high level of commitment to the Main Street program.
Ewing then questioned whether Hooks, as the non-voting mayor, was actually a “member” of the city council.
The council left unresolved the second appointment, asking their attorney to research the question of whether the mayor was eligible for appointment in preparation for its next meeting, held Monday.
Hooks was absent from this month’s meeting, and Bradley, as the mayor pro tem, presided.
At this week’s meeting, Ewing got the agenda item moved up to early in the meeting, which other council members allowed. That expedited position was helpful, in hindsight, when the council stayed in session for almost five hours.
Several downtown business people – some who are members of the provisional board of directors, Kat Mathias, Sugaree Thornton, and Steve Krans – then praised Ewing’s involvement in downtown issues and in favor of his appointment to the Main Street provisional board of directors.
Meanwhile, city attorney Lawson Brown’s confirmed that the mayor is, indeed, eligible for appointment.
Hadley renewed her motion from last month to appoint Ewing, which failed on a 2-3 vote, with her and Ewing supporting the motion (which Ewing had seconded); Bradley, Burkholder, and Jonathan White were opposed.
White then moved to appoint Hooks to the second ex officio position, which passed 3-2 with the same voting configuration: Bradley, Burkholder, and White in favor; Hadley and Ewing opposed.
Burkholder explained her reservation about Ewing’s appointment, saying she was concerned that, if he was successful in his November race, the council would be faced with finding a replacement for his ex officio position on the Main Street board of directors.