Who’s on First?

From left, District A Councilman Wayne Edwards, District B Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem Terika Williams-Walker and City Attorney Jimbo Yocom.

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Since the death of Minden Mayor Terry Gardner Tuesday, the City of Minden has technically been without someone in that office.

City attorney Jimbo Yocom communicated with council members about the issue Tuesday afternoon.

“Under the law, what is commonly called the Mayor Pro Tem, – our charter actually calls it the president of the council – it says they are to serve in the disability or absence of the mayor,” Yocom said. “That generally means whenever the mayor is out of town or hospitalized. But the Mayor Pro Tem is not the vice president of the city, meaning they do not automatically take over if the mayor passes away.”

Death creates a vacancy in the mayor’s office, he said.

“Mayor Pro Tem, in effect, is only when the office is still filled, so where we are now is, the Secretary of State must declare the office vacant,” Yocom said. “The council then has a time period to appoint an interim mayor … I believe it’s 20 days.”

Yocom said it is too close to the Fall election to call a special election for the office.

“When there is a year or less left in a term, they just appoint an interim to serve throughout the rest of the term,” he said. “That person can either be from the council, or anyone, really. Whomever they desire.”

If the council chooses to appoint one of their own as interim, it adds yet another step to the process.

“The councilperson will have to resign their seat, therefore, the council will have to appoint someone to fill the vacancy to serve that district,” Yocum said.

District B Councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker served as Mayor Pro Tem during the calendar Year 2021.

“There is a resolution that says the mayor pro tem can only serve a specified period of time, one year,” Yocom said. “In January 2022, they did not elect a new one – and did not nominate and re-elect Mrs. Walker. So that means the city has been operating without a mayor pro tem since that time.”

The Minden City Council will meet again Tuesday, July 5 at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers, Minden City Hall.

“Providing the Secretary of State has declared the mayor’s seat vacant by that time – and they can do that quickly or not – then appointing someone should be at the top of the agenda,” Yocom said. “The Secretary of State knows it needs to be a quick turn around. I would be surprised if it is not done by next week’s council meeting.”

Since the death of Minden Mayor Terry Gardner Tuesday, the City of Minden has technically been without someone running the show.

City attorney Jimbo Yocum communicated with council members about the issue Tuesday afternoon.

“Under the law, what is commonly called the Mayor Pro Tem – our charter actually calls it the president of the council – says they are to serve in the disability or absence of the mayor,” Yocum said. “That generally means whenever the mayor is out of town or hospitalized. But the Mayor Pro Tem is not the vice president of the city, meaning they do not automatically take over if the mayor passes away.”

Death is the only thing that creates a “vacancy” in the mayor’s office, he said.

“Mayor Pro Tem, in effect, is in control only when the mayor’s office is still filled. So where we are now is, the Secretary of State must declare the office vacant,” Yocum said. “The council then has a time period to appoint an interim mayor … I believe it’s 20 days.”

Yocum said it is too close to the Fall election to call a special ballot for the office.

“When there is a year or less left in a term, they just appoint an interim to serve throughout the rest of the term,” he said. “That person can either be from the council – or anyone, really. Whomever they desire.”

If the council chooses to appoint one of their own as interim, it adds yet another step to the process.

“The councilperson will have to resign their council seat, therefore, the council will have to appoint someone to fill the vacancy to serve that district,” Yocum said.

Right now, District B Councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker serves as Mayor Pro Tem which, Yocum described as short-term and means “she only steers the ship until the council meets to appoint a new mayor.”

The Minden City Council will meet again Tuesday, July 5 at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers, Minden City Hall.

“Providing the Secretary of State has declared the mayor’s seat vacant by that time – and they can do that quickly, or not – then appointing someone should be at the top of the agenda,” Yocum said. “The Secretary of State knows it needs to be a quick turn around. I would be surprised if it is not done by next week’s council meeting.”