By Ashley Jordan
Capital News Service
RICHMOND – The House of Delegates is considering a bill to add a ninth member to the Halifax County Board of Supervisors so that votes don’t deadlock in a tie.
The House Counties, Cities and Towns Committee voted 20-2 Friday in favor of HB 2319, sponsored by Del. James E. Edmunds, R-Halifax. Under his legislation, the ninth member of the Board of Supervisors would be elected from the county at large.
The committee’s action cleared the way for the full House to vote on the measure. The bill is scheduled for a second reading Monday. It then could receive a third and final reading on Tuesday – the deadline for bills to pass their house of origin.
If the House does not approve HB 2319 by Tuesday night, it is dead for this legislative session.
The bill states that “beginning January 1, 2016, the Halifax County Board of Supervisors shall include, in addition to the eight members currently elected from districts, a ninth member to be elected from the county at large to serve a four-year term.
“The at-large position shall be elected in November 2015 at the time of the general election and every four years thereafter. A candidate for the at-large position shall qualify to have his name placed on the ballot in accordance with the provisions of general law. No person may be a candidate for the at-large position at the same time he is a candidate for a position elected from a district.”
The Board of Supervisors has been unable to elect a chairman and vice chairman because votes have ended in a 4-4 tie. Moreover, relationships among board members have been tense. Last Monday, for example, a citizen was escorted from the meeting after making inflammatory allegations about the county administrator and finance director, and then two board members got into an argument – with one accusing the other of slander.
Edmunds said that he did not think his bill would “settle the personality difference” among board members but that it would help prevent 4-4 splits in the future.
Edmunds said he believes that all members of the board have the best interest of Halifax County at heart. The disagreements appear to stem from something personal among board members, he said. “I don’t know what they are necessarily, but I know they are personal.”
As for his bill, Edmunds said with a laugh, “It’s not going to change the personality of those whose who are fighting now. It’s not going to make them love each other.”
According to Edmunds, the problem arose when the community of South Boston reverted from a city to a town. As a result, the county’s seven-member Board of Supervisors turned into an eight-member board.
At this point, it would be problematic to return to a seven-member board, Edmunds said.
“You got to then redraw every district – someone is going to lose a seat,” he said. “It would be a long, drawn-out [process] and probably cause more discord.”