A rumor is swirling that an effort may be afoot to prevent Commissioner-elect Beth Cashion from claiming the Mayor Pro Tempore spot when the new Town Board is seated next week. Tradition has it that the highest vote getter from the Board is selected for this position. If such a move is made it will be a sign of discord to come and a lack of acceptance on the part of the remaining incumbent Board members and Mayor Woods regarding what actually happened this past election cycle.
Let's all hope for the sake of our community that it does not come to that. I certainly hope that they would not put us on the same discordant path that Huntersville took this week with its new Board - starting off on the wrong foot and diminishing the role of certain commissioners.
So, you may be asking what is the Mayor Pro Tem and why does it matter?
Well, in the words of Commissioner Brian Jenest, the current holder of the position, Mayor Pro Tem is just a "fancy name for the guy who got the most votes in the last election." Those were his actual comments at the Summers Walk forum during the campaign. (See the 13:45 mark of the DavidsonNews.net recording at the link.)
As you can probably imagine, there is a little more to it than that.
The Mayor Pro Tem serves as the "backup" when the Mayor is not available. Ostensibly, the Pro Tem's main responsibility is to run the Board meetings if the Mayor is unavailable. However, this person would also go to events and meet with people as the Town representative if the Mayor could not - making the Pro Tem position a little more important than just a seat filler. The Pro Tem at times can become the "face" of the Town.
For a Town leadership that absolutely craves solidarity and abhors any type of disagreement, having the number two spot filled with a newcomer to the Board, someone who will have ideas independent from the Mayor's, is not desirable.
During the recent campaign, candidate Beth Cashion repeatedly faced a question designed to embarrass her. Every forum except for Summers Walk asked whether candidates used Mi-Connection. This question even came up at the last minute to be included in the DavidsonNews.net candidate profiles. The question implied that not subscribing to the town-owned cable company somehow should disqualify someone from public office. The question implied that if a new candidate was not a subscriber they somehow did not support the town.
Beth Cashion was the only candidate who had to answer that question with a "no". She answered it well. She answered it repeatedly. And apparently, the voters appreciated it - giving her by far the most votes on election day. My guess is voters cared more about electing someone who won't get us into obviously bad decisions like Mi-Connection rather than if that person spends their household money to bail out the politicians who do.
Beth Cashion absolutely deserves the Mayor Pro Tempore spot, and her fellow Board members should unanimously elect her to that position on Tuesday.
UPDATE 12/9/2013: Word has come in from Mayor Woods and Commissioner Graham that they will support Beth Cashion as Mayor Pro Tem. Very glad to hear that! They said they had not discussed otherwise and what I printed was incorrect. In hindsight, I probably should have asked them directly to verify before printing this piece. My concern was that the town follow tradition, and so I posted what I had heard. I am glad I was wrong. I'm more than glad to hear that there won't be a controversy around the subject tomorrow night - a night that should be a celebration for all involved.