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Council appoints Vann

AHOSKIE – It took 63 days longer than he expected, but Maurice Vann has finally earned a seat on the Ahoskie Town Council.

At Tuesday’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting, the four seated members of the council voted unanimously to appoint Vann to the empty Ward B seat on the governing board. Councilman O.S. “Buck” Suiter Jr. made the motion to appoint Vann with council member Ronald Gatling offering a second. The measure was approved by a 4-0 vote.

How Vann finally arrived at this moment is a tale fit for a made for TV movie.

During the Nov. 6 General Election, Vann, a political newcomer, defeated Ward B incumbent C.R. Askew by a 105-60 tally. However, one week later during the normal canvass of the elections process, the Hertford County Board of Elections declared Vann ineligible due an error in his residency requirements.

According to Hertford County Elections Director Sheila Privott, Vann was allowed to file for the Ward B seat, but it was discovered during the canvass that he actually resided in Ward A. Privott went on to say that this was a human error as both Vann and the board of elections believed the candidate resided in Ward B. The line dividing the two wards is a block away from Vann’s residence.

The elections director said the law was clear that if the winner of an election was disqualified, the seat was to be declared vacant. That put the ball into the Ahoskie Town Council’s court to name an individual to fill the vacancy. Town officials solicited applications from those interested in the position. The only two returned to the town prior to the Dec. 31, 2007 deadline were from Vann and Askew.

Since the unique scenario that led to Vann’s disqualification in November, he has established residency on Malibu Drive, which is within the Ward B boundaries. Because the effective date of that change came on Dec. 5, he has also fulfilled the state’s requirement to maintain residency for a minimum of 30 days before being elected or appointed to public office.

Even though elections law prevented Askew from winning the November race by default, he, like any other registered voter residing in Ward B, had the right to apply for the vacant seat.

Ironically, that same seat once belonged to Larry “Cutt” Vann, the brother of Maurice Vann. Larry Vann was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident in October of 2005. Ahoskie Town Council members chose Askew to fill Larry Vann’s unexpired term, one which ended in December.

Both men touted their strengths to the current Ahoskie Council during a special called meeting last Thursday. Following that brief meeting, council members promised to fill the seat during their Tuesday meeting, which they did.

Vann will be sworn-in prior to the next Ahoskie Council meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. on Feb. 12.