When members of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors gathered for their reorganizational meeting earlier this month, ED-3 Supervisor Hubert Pannell was named chairman, and ED-7 Supervisor Garland Ricketts was named vice chairman.
But now one supervisor, ED-6 Supervisor Stanley Brandon, is saying the incorrect supervisor was declared chairman based on Robert’s Rules of Order and what is considered a majority.
“According to Robert’s Rules of Order, Mr. Pannell is not the chair,” said Brandon.
Now supervisors are having a special called meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the public meeting room of the Mary Bethune Office Complex in Halifax to come to a resolution of the offices of chairman and vice chairman.
Halifax County Administrator Scott Simpson presided over that reorganizational meeting and opened the floor for nominations for chairman following the roll call and approval of the agenda.
Brandon made a motion to nominate ED-8 Supervisor William Bryant Claiborne for chairman, which was seconded by ED-4 Supervisor Ronnie Duffey.
ED-2 Supervisor Jeffrey Francisco made a motion to nominate Pannell for chairman, which was seconded by Ricketts.
Claiborne then made a motion to close nominations.
“I will take nominations in order they were submitted first is nomination of Supervisor Claiborne. We will vote based on raising your right hand for Supervisor Claiborne,” Simpson said at that meeting.
Brandon, Claiborne and Duffey raised their hands.
The county administrator then asked for any opposing votes, and no one raised their hands or spoke.
He then asked for votes for Pannell, and Pannell, Francisco, ED-1 Supervisor Calvin “Ricky” Short and ED-5 Supervisor Dean Throckmorton raised their right hands.
No one voted in opposition for Pannell.
“Supervisor Pannell, you have been elected chairman for the calendar year 2020,” said Simpson during that meeting.
But now Brandon is questioning whether or not that second vote for Pannell should have ever occurred.
He visited Simpson midday Tuesday, Jan. 7, the day after their monthly meeting, to bring it to his attention.
“Mr. Brandon felt there was a procedural error and raised the point of order Tuesday midday. He felt Claiborne had won the majority vote,” Simpson said Wednesday.
“I did not use that language (referring to the point of order),” said Brandon, who brought the matter to Simpson because he had been the one presiding over the reorganizational meeting and announced the new chairman.
“I made it be known the election had been handled incorrectly,” he added.
According to Roberts Rules of Order, when a quorum is present, a majority vote — a majority of the votes cast, ignoring blanks — is sufficient for the adoption of any motion that is in order, except in cases that require a two-thirds vote.
“As the presiding officer at the time, I was looking for a majority of the board. Roberts Rules defines a majority vote as a majority of those voting. If only three vote, then that is a majority,” Simpson said Wednesday.
Brandon contends that no other votes should have followed the 3 and 0 vote for Claiborne.
“After reading Roberts Rules of Order, 3 and 0 is clearly a majority vote, and the first candidate to achieve that majority vote should be declared the winner,” said Brandon.
“I think we’re getting off base and personal. It’s clear I asked for a problem to be corrected. It’s a simple fix, but other options have been recommended. I think we should follow what we the board adopted as our bylaws. The county needs to get on about its business.”
He said he has asked for a written determination on who was elected chairman from the board’s parliamentarian, county attorney Jeremy Carroll, but as of Thursday had not received one.
Supervisors did receive a memorandum from Simpson outlining the sequence of events at the reorganizational meeting and the ability to address a point of order.
A point of order, according to Simpson, should be timely, and he said it would be up to the presiding chairman, Pannell, to hear the point of order and decide how to proceed.
But having Pannell preside over the meeting also is a concern for Brandon.
He feels approaching Pannell about the matter of chairman would be the same as approaching any other of the eight-member board.
“We should follow procedure. What good is adopting bylaws if we’re not going to follow them,” Brandon questioned.
He added, “We’re making a spectacle out of this when there’s no need.”
Attempts to reach Pannell and Claiborne for comment were unsuccessful as of press time Thursday.