Chapel Hill Interviews Potential Aldermen

Friday, April 7, 2017
Danny Bingham

The Chapel Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen face a difficult decision after interviewing candidates for an empty alderman seat.

“This is going to be hard,” said Alderman Marion Joyce, after the board heard from the four residents who had submitted themselves for consideration.

Houston “Bucko” Bryant held the seat in question for almost 20 years. Bryant passed away in January, forcing the current board to appoint a replacement to serve the remainder of his term, until the 2018 election.

Marie Darnell, Ann Dean, Mike Faulkenberry, and Jackie King attended the meeting to speak with the board about their interest in the position.

The board interviewed each of the four separately, exploring why they were interested in the position and what their thoughts were of the present state of and of the future for the town.

All four have deep roots in the community and all expressed their love for the town of Chapel Hill.

“I love Marshall County and Chapel Hill,” said Darnell, echoing statements from the other three potential aldermen.

“I didn’t know the competition was going to be so tough,” Faulkenberry jokingly said. “I’ve known these people all my life.”

He said that he had considered running in the past as a way to serve the town and that residents had asked him to consider it.

The board asked each of the potential members about the future growth of the town.

Faulkenberry expressed an opinion shared by the four.

“Growth is always good,” he said. “You don’t want to get behind.”

Regarding growth, King predicted in 10 years that there would be a bypass around town in order to deal with the expanding traffic.

King, who worked for the town for years as a police officer, did express an intention to run for the board at the next election regardless of whether or not he was appointed at this time.

Mayor Danny Bingham expressed the need to have a full slate of aldermen.

“There’s stuff coming down the pike that we need a full board’s wisdom for,” he said, especially with discussion of next year’s budget beginning soon.

The board will discuss the appointment further at their regular monthly meeting on Monday, April 10, with a goal of voting on the appointment.

“I don’t think we can go wrong with any of them,” said Alderman Dottie Morton.

Before they interviewed the candidates the board did touch on potential conflicts of interest. Darnell is the mother-in-law of current alderman Jan Darnell and Jackie King’s son serves as the town recorder.

Town Attorney Todd Moore offered his opinion that as long as aldermen abstained from voting on matters where there could be a conflict of interest that there should be no problem with nepotism issues.

Darnell did leave the room while her mother-in–law was interviewed.

The interviews were conducted at a special called meeting held in order to vote on the first reading of an ordinance that would set fees on wholesale wine sales for grocery stores.

The eight percent fee is the maximum allowed in Marshall County and mirrors the wholesaler fee set on liquor stores.