Chestertown’s attorney, Stewart Barroll, advised last week that current sitting council members should follow the charter and fill the mayor’s seat within 45 days of former Mayor Chris Cerino’s resignation on April 5–or default to a special election if the council fails to agree on who should fill the seat.
The deadline to appoint a new mayor and avoid a special election is May 21. Council members can choose a new mayor from within the council or appoint someone from the town who meets the residency and age qualifications.
Barroll’s advice is counter to a proposal by Town Manager Bill Ingersoll last week to rotate current sitting council members every two weeks to fill the mayor’s seat through the fall election. Ingersoll believed that the 45-day clock would get reset each time a new council member was appointed to mayor for a two-week stint.
“It was my opinion that the Charter did not preclude the Council from choosing Acting Mayors on a rotational basis,” Ingersoll said in an email to council members on Friday. “I apologize if I had the reset, or the idea of rotating the Acting Mayors wrong.”
Ingersoll said Barroll’s interpretation of Section 8 of the Charter was more “literal” than his.
“I apologize for not being correct on the rotation of the Council to fill this relatively short duration,” he said to council members.
The town council has two scheduled meetings to select a new mayor before the May 21 deadline.