The Front Royal Town Council started its search to fill a vacancy after one member quit in protest last week.

Councilman Joseph E. McFadden resigned moments after members and the mayor voted 4-3 at a work session to terminate Town Manager Stephen Hicks’ employment contract effective immediately. Hicks had worked as the town manager for 20 months.

McFadden, Vice Mayor Lori A. Cockrell and Councilwoman Letasha T. Thompson voted against the motion made to terminate the contract. Council members Gary L. Gillispie, Zachary Jackson and Amber F. Morris voted in favor of terminating Hicks’ employment agreement. Mayor Christopher W. Holloway cast the tie-breaking vote to end the contract.

Council members met behind closed doors at a work session on Monday to discuss personnel matters, specifically the town manager, town attorney and clerk of council. They convened in open session but took no action on the personnel matters they intended to discuss. Council members made no announcement that they would start taking resumes from people interested in the vacant seat. Front Royal posted the advertisement for the appointment on the town’s website.

McFadden spoke in support of Hicks in the days after the meeting while criticizing some fellow members for their handling of government operations. McFadden said on Aug. 12 that he submitted a letter to the Town Council indicating that he had not properly resigned according to Robert’s Rules of Order and his resignation should be considered invalid.

Town voters elected McFadden in November 2020 and he took office in January 2021. The person appointed by the council to fill the vacancy would serve until the candidate selected in a special election takes the oath of office. The date of the special election has not been determined. The winning candidate in the special election will serve the rest of McFadden’s term, which ends Dec. 31, 2024.

The town already has a special election scheduled for Nov. 8 to fill a vacancy created when Councilman E. Scott Lloyd resigned earlier this year. Council members appointed Jackson to fill the vacancy until the winner of the special election for the seat takes the oath of office. The winner will serve out the rest of the term until it expires Dec. 31, 2024. The town also holds a general election for three council seats and for mayor, the terms for which expire at the end of the year.

Candidates for the appointment to the council must reside in Front Royal, be a registered voter and have been a resident of Virginia for one year preceding his or her appointment.

Council members will not consider information received after the deadline or individuals not eligible for appointment.

Anyone interested in serving on the council can send a resume with a cover letter by 4:30 p.m., Sept. 6, to:

Mayor and Town Council

102 E. Main Street, P. O. Box 1560

Front Royal, Virginia 22630

Attn: Tina L Presley, Clerk of Council

– Contact Alex Bridges at

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