Weaverville – Well, my commentary from two weeks ago certainly got some reaction from former Weaverville Mayor Al Root. Weaverville Councilman Jeff McKenna’s Letter to the Editor (page 2) also chimed in. Last week I needed to forfeit my usual Clint’s Corner commentary to get it in Mr. Root’s word on the matter. That’s ok. I want to let those who disagree with me know that their opinions are always welcome.
If you missed it, I basically said that former Mayor Al Root’s retirement appeared to me (and I don’t think I am alone) as a political move, essentially allowing the council to fill the seat on the board. This board seat left vacant by Patrick Fitzsimmons moving to the mayor’s seat. All before the November election.
Root denied that was the case in his response to the Tribune last week.
In his rebuttal Root said, “The events in question were precipitated by my resigning as mayor with three months left in my term. The commentator believes that I must have some hidden evil motive. The reason I have stated publicly to one and all, and that the commentator dismisses, is that after 24 years in and out of serving the town, I think it makes perfect sense to let the incoming mayor take over three months early when (1) we know who the incoming mayor is going to be (Patrick Fitzsimmons, who is unopposed in the November election) and (2) the town’s attention turns from finishing up the business of my years as mayor to beginning the projects that will take place during Patrick Fitzsimmons’ time as Mayor. Maybe I should want to cling to office even though others are in a better place to handle it, but no, thank you.”
However, I hope my commentary gave the entire council the perspective others and I have about what transpired on the board. And just to be clear, things still don’t add up. The more I find out, the worse it looks.
Take last week’s interview with new Councilman John Chase. When asked how he was approached to see if he’d be interested in serving on the town council, Chase told the Tribune, “Basically, Al Root…said would you meet Patrick and I for coffee. And I did and they said, ‘have you ever consider being on town council?.’” However, Root told the Tribune in an email dated August 25, “It seems like it was a week or 10 days later that Patrick asked me if I thought that John Chase would make a good choice and I told Patrick that I thought John would (based on my work with John on my home and building as well as his P&Z work). I joined Patrick in a meeting with John a few days later to share my experience of having served on council.” So from Root’s side of the story, it was Patrick that set the meeting up. Then the vote was taken on Chase without any public comment.
To be fair, this is not the only board running around conducting itself as a one-board election committee effectively robbing the people of their right to vote on who will govern them. “On August 24, Asheville City Council pushed through the nomination of George Sieburg for the Asheville City Board of Education just hours after the vacancy was known to anyone,” complained Brooke Heaton of Asheville. It wasn’t even hours for Weaverville.
Do people really like this form of how the council has been filling vacant seats? First, Jeff McKenna and now John Chase. Well, this is one I don’t presume to know the answer to, but time will tell.