Asheville City Council will have a short organizational meeting this evening to swear in new members Marc Hunt and Chris Pelly, welcome back Jan Davis for a third term and bid farewell to Brownie Newman and Bill Russell. They’ll also select a Vice Mayor, a position that could be more important than usual in the coming two years.
Normally, the Vice Mayor (Newman since 2009) is selected from Council’s ranks after each election to fill in for the Mayor when they’re out of town, sick or otherwise unable to carry out their usual duties. The times this happens are usually relatively rare.
But with Mayor Terry Bellamy running for the 10th district congressional seat, however, that could well change. Asheville occupies the northwestern corner of the district, and campaigning throughout the rest will require no small amount of travel, so there’s a strong possibility that the Vice Mayor ends up filling in for Bellamy more often.
Furthermore, if Bellamy pulls out a win in the race, Council will select her replacement (just as they fill a vacant Council seat). While under the city charter they can technically select any “qualified elector” in the city to fill the job, the Vice Mayor would be an early favorite, as they’ve already mustered support from a majority of Council. Even if Bellamy doesn’t win a congressional seat, who goes for the spot may well be a harbinger of a mayoral run in 2013, and an early indication of how much support that person has from the rest of Council.
Watch what happens this evening. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. in Council’s chambers on the second floor of City Hall.