NEW MARKET – The Town Council has appointed a former member to fill a vacant seat until a permanent council member can be elected in November.
The four council members present at Monday night’s regular monthly meeting voted unanimously to appoint Peter Hughes, who’d previously served on New Market’s Town Council from 2016 to 2020, to the council for the next four months. Hughes fills the position left vacant by the recent resignation of council member Doug Bradley, who stepped down from the post for health reasons, according to Town Manager Todd Walters.
New Market’s Town Council amended the agenda at the start of Monday’s meeting to include a discussion in closed session about how to proceed with filling the empty seat. After the closed session, council reconvened in open session and voted to appoint Hughes to the seat, beginning in July, until the November elections.
Hughes said on Wednesday morning that when he learned Bradley had resigned, he informed the Town Council that he’d be interested in filling the seat if and when that decision was made.
Hughes, who was elected to his first council term in 2016, said he chose not to run for reelection last year because what was meant to be an “experiment” with living with his son in Maryland for a couple of months turned into a longer stay due to COVID-19. Hughes, a former principal at Stonewall Jackson High School, said he ended up spending the school year in Maryland helping his three granddaughters with online schooling and only recently has been afforded the chance to move back to New Market.
“I know many people on the council and the town manager, and I had expressed an interest early on that if I could help in some way, I would,” Hughes said.
Hughes plans on running for the council seat in November, he said.
Of his first stint on New Market’s Town Council, Hughes said it was a “really interesting experience and I liked where we were going.” He noted on Wednesday that when he was first elected in 2016, the town had recently completed a survey with its residents, through which New Market leaders had developed a list of “goals and specific things, which we have used ever since.”
“My hope is that the council and the manager will work together to continue working on the list of the things that we all thought were necessary and important to the town,” Hughes said. “That’s kind of the way I think it should work. One of the things that I have learned in the town is that things don’t turn around quickly sometimes. … I know we all were interested in sidewalks and it’s been a very slow go on that. We also have a water project that seems to be taking a lot of time, but I think the reasons for that are more tied up with the process of getting the approvals to do that and the funding to do that. … It really is all about the council and manager and town working together to get the things done that move us forward.”
Bradley had previously served eight years as New Market’s mayor before deciding last year, at age 82, to give way to current Mayor Larry Bompiani and run for a seat on the Town Council. Bradley hadn’t attended a Town Council meeting since December before he sent a letter of resignation – dated June 5 – to Walters, the town manager said.
Prior to serving as mayor of New Market, Bradley held that same post in Clark, Pennsylvania, for 18 years.
“I’m thinking he’s got close to 30 years or more of service, and for somebody to do that, obviously they’re certainly dedicated to public service,” Walters said on Tuesday. “That’s a testament to him, to be able to do that and want to do that for that long.”
On Tuesday night, Shenandoah County General Registrar Lisa McDonald requested from the county’s Board of Supervisors a resolution pertaining to the filling of the unexpired seat in New Market. Because the necessary special town election creates a split precinct in the Nov. 2 elections – as it will coincide with a race for the District 1 seat on the county Board of Supervisors – the county is required to obtain a waiver from the Virginia Department of Elections, which passed a law last year prohibiting split precincts, McDonald said.
Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution requesting that waiver during their regular meeting on Tuesday.
November’s special election will be the second one held for a New Market Town Council seat this year. Janice Hannah ran unopposed in May for the seat she’d already occupied after she was appointed by the Town Council to fill the vacancy left by Bompiani’s ascension to mayor in June 2020.