The clock started ticking to appoint a new mayor following the resignation of Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino on Tuesday, April 6.
Ward 3 Councilman Ellsworth Tolliver said in a brief interview on Wednesday that he will seek the support of current council members to fill the seat vacated by Cerino. If nominated, Tolliver would be the first African American in the town’s history to hold the mayor’s seat.
The town council has 45 days to select a new mayor before the Chestertown Board of Election Supervisors would take over the process and hold an election in the interim — ahead of the town’s 2021 election when Wards 1 and 3 and the mayor’s seat are on the ballot.
According to the town charter, the town council could vote to appoint a registered voter of the town who has lived in the town limits for not less than two years from the prior election, is a U.S. citizen and is at least 25 years of age. There’s no requirement to select a sitting council member but it’s more than likely that the next mayor will be appointed from the remaining roster of council members.
Tolliver and Ward 1 council member David Foster are the most senior members of the town council.
If council members appoint a fellow sitting member for mayor then the sitting member’s vacant seat must be filled by a registered voter of the town who is at least 21 years of age and has resided in the town for not less than one year from the previous election — and not less than 30 days from the previous election in the district of the vacant seat.
The search for a new mayor comes as the town is facing numerous challenges; among them, ongoing issues with the hospital oil spill, redevelopment of the Ajax basketball court, passing the new voting redistricting plan and the urgency for truth and reconciliation with the town’s racist past.