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One county commission seat still to be filled

Five more incumbents were voted out during the Aug. 7 County Election, bringing the total of new Washington County commissioners to 14. But the race isn’t over yet.
Commissioner Pete Speropulos was elected to office despite no longer being eligible to serve the 1st District due to his recent move to Sulphur Springs. He resigned from the commission in July, but the election ballot was already printed.
Because he was still a legal candidate, Administrator of Elections Maybell Stewart said Speropulos will now be required to resign a second time.
Originally, Stewart said the county commission would then declare a vacancy; the Election Office would announce dates for picking up nominating petitions and qualifying; and candidates who file and are approved to run would appear on the Nov. 4 ballot, with the final commissioner being chosen during the General Election.
However, many questions were unanswered at the time the Herald & Tribune went to press: Does Speropulos have to wait until the election results are certified before he can resign? Do the prospective candidates have to meet the Aug. 21 qualifying deadline on the 2014 election schedule? If so, will the commission have to schedule a called meeting to declare the vacancy? If the vacancy can’t be declared, will the county commission appoint an individual to serve the full four-year term of what is an elected office?
Commission Chairman Greg Matherly said he would be meeting with Stewart this week to determine the process.
Matherly had expressed some concern about a delay in progress after the May 6 Republican Primary when voters ousted Commissioners Alpha Bridger, Doyle Cloyd, Mark Ferguson, Roger Nave and Gearld Sparks. “So far, it has not been as controversial as I thought it would have been,” he said, though there has been a slow down in decisions.
“I think some of it is coming from not having a (2014-15) budget,” he said. “We can’t address major expenses on a continuing budget.”
Commissioners not re-elected during the Aug. 7 County Election are Ben Bowman, Phyllis Corso, Richard Matherly, Sam Phillips and Joe Sheffield.
Commissioners Ethan Flynn, Ken Lyon and Pat Wolfe chose not to run, and David Shanks withdrew from the race.
A swearing-in ceremony for elected officials and county commissioners is set for Thursday, Aug. 28, at 9 a.m. in the George P. Jaynes Justice Center.
An organizational meeting of the new board is tentatively planned for Tuesday, Sept. 2. “We will hopefully be able to elect a chairman and a Committee on Committees and not have a 30-day swag,” Matherly said, noting one of the first things that needs to be addressed is the deficit in the Washington County Schools budget.
Matherly says he expects a slight learning curve with the large number of new commissioners, but current board members and elected officials are available as resources. “We may have to bring more information to meetings on the front end to make decisions, but that is not necessarily a bad thing,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do.”
Mayor Dan Eldridge agreed. “Greg Matherly and I have discussed the need to get down to business as soon as possible,” he said. In addition to a chairman and Committee on Committees, Eldridge hopes to receive approval of his Budget Committee appointments during the organizational meeting.
“I’m very enthusiastic about the makeup of the new commission,” Eldridge said. “Based on the opinions made public during the campaign, I feel like I am stepping into a body that is like-minded on most issues, and I think they will take action quickly.”
Making up the next Washington County Commission will be:
First District – 3 seats
Greg Matherly
Rick Storey
Third commissioner to be elected or appointed.
Second District – 3 seats
Sam Humphreys
Robbie McGuire
George E. “Skip” Oldham III
Third District – 3 seats
Larry England
Mitch Meredith
Joe Wise
Fourth District – 3 seats
Katie Baker
Lee Chase
David Tomita
Fifth District – 2 seats
Gary McAllister
Robbie Tester
Sixth District – 3 seats
Tom Foster
Joe Grandy
Tom Krieger
Seventh District – 3 seats
Bryan Davenport
Mike Ford
Mark Larkey
Eighth District – 2 seats
Steven E. Light
Matthew Morris
Ninth District – 2 seats
Danny Edens
Todd Hensley
Tenth District – 1 seat
Forrest Boreing