APEX — The Town Council could name a new mayor during a specially called meeting on Monday.
Applications from interested candidates are due at noon Monday, and the council will meet at 5:30 p.m. that day to consider the candidates and possibly name Apex’s next mayor, elected officials said.
Town Councilman Bill Jensen said it’simportant to name a new mayor quickly.
Longtime mayor Keith Weatherly resigned Jan. 25 to take a job with the N.C. Department of Transportation. His term ends December 2015.
To fill the vacant seat, the council could appoint one its own five members or an outside candidate.
During a public hearing on Tuesday, several residents said the council should appoint Mayor Pro Tem Gene Schulze to the seat because of his experience on the board and also to provide continuity.
“This is a young, growing town,” said resident Martha Fay, who spoke in favor of Schulze being named mayor. “I think we need a lot of energy in that position. It is the face of our town.”
The mayor pro tem is supposed to serve as mayor at council meetings and public events when the mayor can’t attend.
Fay said she worried the council already has an applicant in mind for the post – Bill Sutton, a former Apex town manager who has also served on the planning board and the Town Council.
“It seems to me from what I’m hearing that they’ve already decided on who they want,” Fay said. “I’m not getting the warm and fuzzy feeling that it’s going to be anyone but Bill Sutton.”
Sutton, who applied to fill the seat, said he isn’t interested in seeking a full term as mayor next year. At least two council members have said they want to select a candidate who wants to finish Weatherly’s term and not seek more time in office.
“I think with my experience I could do a good job for Apex,” Sutton said. “As a retiree, I would be available to meet with business people and could bring some of my connections with the community to the job.”
Resident and local business owner Tom Colhoun spoke in support of Sutton, who he said is a big supporter of economic development.
Colhoun said the council should consider outside applicants.
“These people are elected as voting members for four years,” Colhoun said of council members. “They are not elected as mayor. The mayor is elected to guide and lead. These people are elected to listen, respond and vote.”
Jensen said both Sutton and Schulze were leading candidates, but it was still early in the process. The town had received few applications as of Wednesday.
“Certainly with Bill’s background, he has a strong resume,” Jensen said of Sutton. “If someone else comes forward, I am willing to take a look at them. I’m looking at what have people done for Apex, to make Apex a better place.”
Darren Eustance ran for a seat on the Town Council in 2011. He campaigned against what he saw as a “good ol’ boy” club.
“It seems like (it has) gone the opposite direction,” Eustance said. “You are deciding before hearing from the citizens. We already have a good man up there to be (the) mayor, Gene Schulze.”
If Schulze is appointed to the position, it would create a vacancy on the council to be filled at a later date.
Schulze has made no secret of his desire for the mayor’s seat but said he will do what is best for Apex.
“No matter who is appointed next Apex mayor I will stand behind them 100 percent,” Schulze said.
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