FRONT ROYAL — The Town Council chose a local college official on Monday as its newest member.

Melissa A. DeDomenico-Payne, who works as Laurel Ridge Community College's grant manager, was appointed to the council by a 5-0 vote. She fills the seat left vacant when then-Councilwoman and Vice Mayor Lori Cockrell was elected mayor in November. 

DeDomenico-Payne will serve until a Nov. 7 special election, when voters will elect a candidate to serve the remainder of Cockrell's term through December 2024.  

Vice Mayor R. Wayne Sealock and council members Joshua L. Ingram, Amber F. Morris, H. Bruce Rappaport and Duane R. “Skip” Rogers voted in favor of a motion to appoint DeDomenico-Payne. Cockrell attended the meeting but the mayor votes only to break a tie.

Cockrell commented on the appointment before the vote.

“We had many people that were interested in serving on this council, which we all found very encouraging to know that that many citizens want to be involved and serve their community," she said. "So it was a very tough choice, and we just want to thank everybody for showing interest.”

Council members discussed the appointment in a closed session before returning to the open portion of the meeting and voting.

DeDomenico-Payne works in the Laurel Ridge Community College Office of Communications and Planning at its Middletown campus, according to the institution’s website.

– Contact Alex Bridges at

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