By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- A divided Front Royal Town Council took four tries to choose a vice mayor among its membership Monday night.
Members turned down at their regular meeting attempts to first elect Councilman Thomas H. Sayre, then Councilman Hollis L. Tharpe and finally Councilman N. Shae Parker. Councilman Bret W. Hrbek made motions each time for a different councilman to serve as vice mayor for a two-year term.
The motion to elect Sayre as vice mayor failed 5-1. Councilman Daryl L. Funk seconded the motion after a long silence and then a quick nod from Sayre. Funk voted in favor of the motion. Hrbek voted against his motion along with Parker, Sayre, Councilman Hollis L Tharpe and Councilman Eugene R. Tewalt.
Hrbek then made a motion that council elect Tharpe as vice mayor. That motion also failed by a vote of 3-3. Funk, Sayre and Tharpe voted in favor of the motion. Hrbek, Parker and Tewalt voted against the motion. Mayor Timothy W. Darr, who can vote to break a tie in some cases, said he, on the instruction of Town Attorney Douglas Napier, could not do so in a matter that involves his peers on council.
Hrbek made a third motion to elect Parker to the position. Funk voted against Hrbek's motion along with Sayre and Tharpe. Hrbek voted in favor of the motion along with Parker and Tewalt, leading to another tie vote and failure.
Darr advised council he would entertain one more motion or consult with the attorney. Darr nearly had the chance when Funk made a proposal to reconsider the nomination of Parker as vice mayor. Funk could make the motion to reconsider since he voted against the original proposal. Hrbek, who voted in the positive for the original failed motion, seconded Funk's proposal.
"I did vote for Mr. Tharpe and Mr. Sayre," Funk said. "I did support them for vice mayor. However, I believe that we shouldn't start off the year on a divisive note and I have often agreed with Mr. Parker in the past for some very important votes he's taken -- killing tax increases and other things that I believe are important to the citizens of Front Royal -- and that's why I intend to vote yes on motion to reconsider."
The motion to reconsider passed 4-2 with Funk, Hrbek, Parker and Tewalt voting in favor. Sayre and Tharpe voted against the motion.
"That was interesting and, in the absence of the mayor, I'll do my best to run the meetings," Parker said after the meeting.
Also at the meeting, council:
• Voted unanimously to approve on first reading an ordinance amendment to the town code to allow flea markets in the A-1 district with a special-use permit. Council held a public hearing on the matter but no one spoke.
• Voted unanimously to approve on first reading a motion to amend the town code pertaining to alternate dates for council meetings.
• Heard a report by Martha Shickle, of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission, regarding recent activities related to the town.
• Heard the first quarterly report from Janice Hart, crime prevention specialist for the Front Royal Police Department.