Bedford County Board of Commissioners failed Tuesday night to fill recently retired commissioner Bobby Vannatta's request that his son-in-law fill his vacant District 2 commission seat.
Vannatta, who retired from the commission last month after 19 years of service due to illness, had recommended Ralph Edwards fill his seat until the countywide general election is held in August.
Nine commissioners voted in favor of appointing Edwards while six passed on the vote. Ten votes were needed to make the appointment.
The consideration had come before the Board of Commissioners after a unanimous recommendation for discussion by the Rules and Legislative Committee last month.
Prior to the vote, Commissioner Tony Smith read a proclamation signed by Mayor Ray honoring Vannatta for his years of professional and dedicated service.
"We'll miss Bobby a great deal," Ray said. "He was a great soldier."
Then, Smith made a few comments urging his fellow commissioners to grant Vannatta's wishes and appoint Edwards. He said Vannatta had told him it was his desire for his voice to continue to be heard.
"The people put (Vannatta) up here because they wanted his voice heard in this court room," Smith said, "He told me 'Tony, this is what I want.' and I told him I will do my best to see that this happens.
"I hope that 15 people here tonight can vote with an open mind ... with their hearts ... and can sleep tonight."
No other comments were made prior to the vote.
The following commissioners voted to appoint Edward: Smith, Janice Brothers, Jimmy Woodson, J.D. (Bo) Wilson, Jeff Yoes, John Brown, Ed Castleman, Phillip Farrar and Mark Thomas. Don Gallagher, Bobby Fox, Jimmy Patterson, Linda Yockey, Joe Tillett, and Tony Barrett passed on the vote. Billy King and Denise Graham were absent from the meeting.
Discussion at the rules and legislative committee last month included debate over this decision.
In cases where a commissioner dies in office, it's traditional to appoint a spouse or some other person recommended by the commissioner's family. But commissioners last month noted that this is a resignation, not a death, and so they weren't sure whether that same tradition should apply.
Linda Yockey noted last month that Vannatta would be around to endorse his favored candidate during the August election process.
As of this morning, four potential candidates had picked up qualifying petitions from the county election office for the District 2 seat: Edwards, Bob Davis, Michael Gregory and William Sloan. Only Davis and Gregory have turned their petitions in. The qualifying deadline is June 8.
Last month, several commissioners had indicated they did not want a first-time commissioner taking Vannatta's seat on the Financial Management Committee, and commissioner Patterson asked if the commission could juggle committee assignments to place an existing commissioner on finance and Vannatta's successor somewhere else. Ray said the commission could make whatever committee assignments it liked.
There are two commission seats from each district. Smith is the other commissioner from District 2.
Register of Deeds Johnny Reed warned commissioners of a letter being sent to locals offering a copy of their grand deed or other record of title for $89. Reed explained anyone can get these copies at his office for less than $2.
"I wanted the citizens to be aware," he said.
* During the announcements portion of the meeting, County Finance Director Robert Daniel urged commissioners to attend a special called meeting at 1 p.m. Monday to study requests for county funding by local non-profits.
* Commissioner Thomas invited commissioners to the First Choice Pregnancy Fish Fry scheduled for Saturday. Mention was also made of the upcoming symphony concert scheduled for next week.
* Quarterly reports were also presented to commissioners prior to the meeting and Ray welcomed questions and discussion related to each department.
-- Reporting by city editor John Carney contributed to this story.