The four remaining Pinehurst Village Council members will interview 13 residents who want to be the board’s fifth vote, but getting a consensus choice could be tricky.
The council will hold a special meeting starting at 9 a.m. Thursday to interview 13 residents who have applied for appointment to serve the remaining year of John Cashion’s tern. He resigned last month because of health reasons.
The interviews are scheduled to be completed at 4 p.m., with a 90-minute midday break so council members can attend the village employee Christmas luncheon at the Fair Barn.
“We are hopeful we can reach a consensus that afternoon,” Mayor Nancy Fiorillo said Monday afternoon. “If we can’t, we will have to come back at a later time. It is kind of a fluid situation. We have never done it this way before. Maybe we can do it on one ballot. We will just have to see.”
Initially, 14 residents applied for appointment to fill the vacancy. Fiorillo said one applicant, Doug East, dropped out because he was unable to be there Thursday for the interviews.
She said the interviews will last 20 minutes, with council members questioning each applicant.
The council had initially decided not to conduct public interviews, instead having Fiorillo and John Bouldry, the longest serving of the remaining three members, do that. It later reversed course after public pressure, including an editorial in The Pilot critical of a closed process.
Fiorillo acknowledged that the village took The Pilot’s advice “to heart” and decided to do the interviews in public with all council members taking part. She noted that Southern Pines and Whispering Pines used a similar process for filling vacancies.
She said that after completing the interviews, the plan is for the four members to submit their top three choices and that it could take several attempts to reach a consensus.
Fiorillo said if the council isn’t able to do that Thursday, it could either call for another special meeting or do it at its first meeting in January. She said that will be up to the council.
“It is going to be a long day,” she said.
The council has another special meeting at 8:45 a.m. Friday, which will be closed to the public, to conduct its annual evaluation of Village Manager Jeff Sanborn. If any action is taken, it must be done in public. Following that, council members will take part in the groundbreaking ceremony at 10 a.m. for the new community center to be built on Rattlesnake Trail.
The list of applicants include three former council members — Claire Berggren, Clark Campbell and John Strickland. Aside from those three, Jack Farrell and Fred Engelfried are the only other applicants who have served on a village board or commission.
Engelfried is a former member and chairman of the Planning and Zoning Board and Board of Adjustment. Farrell is a past member of the Historic Preservation Commission.
Two of the others have past experience serving on a municipal council. John Eltschlager served two years on the Foxfire Village Council. Neil Desmond served eight years on the Town Council in Vernon Township in Sussex County, N.J., before moving to Pinehurst in 2010, according to his application.
Other residents who applied are Bart Boudreaux, Larry Behning, Damon Clark, Angelique Fabiani, Charles Russell and Jacob Denton.
Boudreaux is the only one of those six who has run for the Village Council. He finished third in 2017, followed by Berggren, who finished fourth in losing her bid for re-election to a second term. She won as a write-in candidate in 2013.
Campbell also served one term from 2013 to 2017, but he did not seek re-election last year.
Strickland served one term on the council from 2011 to 2015 and then made an unsuccessful run for mayor, losing to Fiorillo in 2015.
Clark, a former school system employee, ran unsuccessfully for the Moore County Board of Education last month.
The council has had to deal with vacancies several times in the last 20 years.
With the exception of 2011, when a vacancy arose after Fiorillo was elected mayor midway through her first term on council, the selection process has been out of the public eye. Village officials declined previous times to provide names of applicants.
In 2011, the council — at the urging of Fiorillo — appointed Mark Parson to serve the final two years of her term. It was Parson’s second appointment to the council. He had previously been appointed in 2010 to replace Ginsey Fallon, who was elevated to mayor to fill the remaining year on the term of the late George Lane, who died that February.
Parson ran in the 2011 election, but finished third in the voting behind Strickland and Cashion.
Boudreaux, initially hesitant to apply for this latest vacancy, changed his mind after learning that there is precedent for appointing the next-highest finisher in a previous election.
In a statement to The Pilot last week he said because of the “precedent set” in 2011 with Parson’s appointment, he should be awarded the seat as the third place vote-getter in the last election.
Fiorillo said previously that while she did lobby for Parson’s appointment in 2011, it was not because he finished third in that election. She said it was because of his previous experience serving on council.
She said there is “no requirement that the council appoint a third-place finisher to fill a vacancy.”