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The city’s voters and not council will decide on who becomes the new District 2 council person to fill the unexpired term of Carol Cowen after her death last month.

Mayor Emery Doughtie this evening requested the scheduled appointment of a person to fill Cowen’s unexpired term be pulled from the agenda. Sandra Bryant, a human resources specialist with Halifax Electric, and Greg Lawson, a retired police chief and former city councilman, had both expressed interest in the appointment. Both plan to run for the seat in November.

Council unanimously agreed to pull the matter from the agenda.

“First of all,” Doughtie said, “It is quite a change and I will say a positive change to have several citizens interested in becoming a member of city council. Citizens have reached out to council members, myself and even city employees sharing their many different viewpoints as to how this vacancy should be filled.”

Doughtie said “this council and the administration has, like many other items, given this very important matter a great amount of attention. We work hard to try and provide the citizens with the best of services and opportunities while keeping costs as low as possible.”

That being said, the mayor told a packed audience, many wearing name tags with Bryant’s name, “As your mayor and based upon conversations that have taken place, I would ask that the agenda be adopted with item 7B being removed. The reason being would be so that the vote of the citizens of District 2 in November should be who decides who will fill the vacancy that Mrs. Cowen’s death has created.”

Lawson, who did not attend the meeting, said this evening, "In fairness to those who were interested it’s the most appropriate and fair way to allow the citizens of District 2 to decide who they want to represent them on council.”

Bryant, who attended the meeting and reiterated she planned to run in November, said afterward, “I respect council’s decision.”

Councilman Carl Ferebee said before the meeting adjourned, “Thank you for allowing the citizens to elect the next council person and allowing the citizens in District 2 to elect a next council person. It’s on to the polls.”

Doughtie said following the meeting the decision to take the issue to the polls “was by far the best” and most fair way to handle the matter. “There was a lot of interest by several different people.”