Town of Emmitsburg
300A S. Seton Ave Emmitsburg, Maryland



February 11, 2013

Emmitsburg Town Office



Present:  Mayor Donald Briggs; Commissioners Clifford Sweeney, Christopher Staiger, Patrick Joy, and Tim O’Donnell, Vice President.

Staff present were Donna DesPres, Town Clerk and John Clapp, Town Attorney


I.       Call to Order

Tim O’Donnell, as President Pro Tem of the Board of Commissioners, called the February 11, 2013 Town Meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. Pledge of Allegiance was recited.


II        Agenda Item

The purpose of this special meeting is to discuss and/or elect a succeeding Commissioner due to the resignation of Commissioner Glenn Blanchard.


Town attorney John Clapp was present and explained the procedure of replacement according to the Town Charter.


Commissioner Staiger presented that the precedent has been to elect the most recent, “runner-up” who participated in a Board of Commissioners election.


Although mandated otherwise, Commissioner Joy expressed the desire to not elect a commissioner at this time since it is such a short time until the next election as the Charter presents no set time limit on the election of the fill-in Commissioner.


Other concerns and comments: 

  • to consider variables such as those involved and active and to consider diversity and new blood;

  • If the precedent is not followed, then better to wait and let the citizens decide at an election rather than to be left open for public debate;

  • Citizens didn’t have enough time to express interest and voice recommendations;

  • Concern of mandate, although the Charter is silent on the time limit;

  • Better to follow previous procedure rather than opening up objections to an alternate method of appointment;

  • Obligation to do what is in the best interest of the town;

  • If no one is appointed, then that leaves more chance open to tied decisions;

  • Tied votes could happen in other cases also (i.e., absence, recusal);

  • Any appointment could give that person an advantage in the next election.


Public Comments included:

  • Not fair to eliminate someone who has not run previously allowing more diversity that more of the town is represented;

  • Some prior candidates were notified, some were not, make someone earn the position;

  • The Board was elected to make decisions and therefore should be entrusted to elect a deserving candidate;

  • The presentation of a committee member’s qualifications to consider for election.


In response to the Board’s inquiry, the town attorney explained that not electing a succeeding commissioner could open the Board to a citizen suit wherein a “writ of mandatus” would force the Board to make the election.  Although the 7-month time period would probably not be effective.

MOTION:  At this time, do not fill the commissioner position, being so close to the normal election.

         Motion by Commissioner Joy, second by Commissioner Staiger


Public Comments included: 

  • put out the names for public feedback;

  • a decision tonight would be arbitrary since no process as to “when”;

  • there is a charter responsibility to elect someone


Mayor Briggs commented that it is important to have a majority, a 5th person is needed.

                                     VOTE:  2-2, motion failed


MOTION:  To have individuals interested in the office to self-identify by February 18 and for the Board to select on March 4.

No second, motion failed


MOTION:  To elect Jen Mellor to fill vacant commissioner seat.

No second, motion failed


At this point, Commissioner Joy agreed with Commissioner Staiger that it would be better to follow previous procedure as opposed to opening up debate or incurring legal opposition.  Commissioner Sweeney expressed his concern with a Board consisting of all but one member being from the same neighborhood to which Commissioner Staiger agreed. 


MOTION:  To support appointing Jim Hoover to fill the remaining commissioner vacancy.

         Motion by Commissioner Staiger, second by Commissioner Joy

                                     VOTE:  4-0 in favor


The oath of office will be administered at the February 18 meeting and reorganization of the President position will take place at the March 4 meeting.


Commissioners Joy and O’Donnell iterated that the Charter needs to be revised to provide more guidance.


Commissioner O’Donnell expressed his kudos to former Commissioner Blanchard for his service.


The February 11, 2013 special meeting of the Board of Commissioners adjourned at 8:47.