Green to fill vacant council seat

Published 12:21 pm Thursday, January 17, 2019

The appointment of Bo Green to the empty seat on the Middlesboro City Council led to some very unhappy residents at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Those residents said Jim Hyde should have been appointed based on the number of votes he received in the last election. Of the candidates who were not elected, Hyde received the most votes.

The appointment was needed to fill a vacancy that occurred when Kevin Barnett took a position with the city and had to give up his seat as of Jan. 1.

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In discussing the process Tuesday night for filling the open seat, Mayor Rick Nelson told council members that they had up to 30 days to make a decision. But they decided not to wait any longer.

Ball made a motion to place Green in the vacated seat. Green is a former council member who ran unsuccessfully against Nelson for mayor.

“Mr. Green has valuable experience and knowledge to contribute to the council,” Ball said.

Jessie Moberg seconded the motion, and council members voted unanimously to approve the nomination.

But before the council could move to the next agenda item, a community member stood up to voice her opinion.

“Whoa, whoa, I call foul, don’t the citizens get a say so?” Patsy Sullivan said as she stood up in the middle of the crowd.

“No, you don’t, this is the council only,” Nelson replied.

“What about a moral code?” she argued. “What about a moral code? That’s not fair to Jim Hyde!

“We voted you all in, we voted for Jim Hyde, too,” she said. “You all are being unfair.”

Nelson said there would be an opportunity before the end of the meeting for public comments, and he later opened up the floor to anyone interested in speaking.

Hyde then addressed the council.

“Well, I understand what the state law is when it comes to filling a vacancy on the city council,” Hyde said. “I talked personally with them at the state election commission and he was telling me that council had the right to put whoever they wanted in there instead of the next person with the next amount of votes, and my expression — that I don’t usually use — but I told him that law sucks.”

Hyde said the law needs to be changed.

“I think it is an unfair thing that is being done,” Hyde said. “827 votes against eight votes; eight votes overruled 827. I think it’s very unfair, I think it’s un-Christian and I had some people ask me what I thought about the new council. I said they’re a pretty good bunch of people but you all have disappointed me.”

Mike Marcum also spoke against the council’s decision.

“It’s not right,” he said. “I’m not anti-Bo Green. Bo’s a good choice, good choice, but that’s not the point. It’s the buddy system. I voted for you and I wish you the best and I congratulate you but that’s not right. I’m not Jim Hyde and I’m not Bo Green but I think you done wrong. Eight folks took away my vote and 800-some others. That’s not fair, folks.”

Councilman Ball responded: “Mike, this wasn’t taken lightly. You made a point to single all of us out and I made the motion. I will be the first one to admit, I made the motion. It happened when we put you on the council once before … we put you on temporarily. We were trying to do this fairly. He (Green) has been on here and he’s got lots of experience and we need the experience right now.”

“So, the citizens don’t count?” Marcum asked.

“Yes, they count,” Ball replied.

Nelson interrupted the men, “Let’s keep things professional,” he said.

“I would ask you as council people, consider the citizens and their votes and what they voted for. I voted for some of you folks, but to take away 800-and-some votes, that’s not right,” Marcum said.

As Marcum took his seat, Sullivan walked to the podium.

“Mr. Ball said something about experience that could have axed a bunch off of here due to experience,” she said. “My point was, it should have been a moral thought, a moral thought on the votes. I just want a bunch of you to know … there will be another election over what you guys done.”

Sullivan walked out of the council chambers and Jeff Bowling stepped to the podium to reiterate what had been said by Hyde, Marcum and Sullivan.

In other action at last night’s meeting, department reports were given by Robbie England of the Middlesboro Fire and EMS, Jeff Sharpe of the police department, Kevin Barnett of the street department, and Tim Kelley of codes enforcement.

The Middlesboro City Council meets every third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers of Middlesboro City Hall.