Filing opens for Don Wells’ at-large seat on City Council
The candidate filing period to fill former at-large Aiken City Councilman Don Wells’ seat opens Nov. 30 at noon, and the election will likely be held in March.
Also, it appears there will be a separate special election to fill the District 6 seat on Aiken County Council, which will be vacated by representative Charles Barton when he is officially appointed as auditor. There is no word yet on when the filing period will open.
Wells submitted his resignation to City Council on Monday and was sworn in as the representative of S.C. House District 81 that night.
“It was kind of a bittersweet moment,” he said.
Wells was elected to the state house last Tuesday in the general election and leaves behind an unexpired term on City Council.
There is one year left on the term, so a special election must be held to fill the seat.
City Council has approved first reading of an ordinance to hold the special election on March 12. Final reading of the ordinance will be considered at City Council’s Nov. 26 meeting.
In accordance with state law, filing in the primary election for the at-large City Council seat will open at noon on Friday, Nov. 30. Filing will close at noon on Monday, Dec. 10. The primary election will be on Jan. 22.
Eligible candidates can live anywhere within the City of Aiken limits because the seat is at-large. The elections will be citywide and will be conducted by the Aiken Municipal Election Commission.
However, the seat will be up for re-election in November 2013 as part of the general election. And, that’s when the City’s new 6-1 redistricting plan goes into effect. Under the 6-1 plan, the only at-large seat that will remain on City Council will be the mayor’s seat. Wells’ former seat will no longer be at-large. It will become District 6.
Wells said whomever runs for the seat to fill his unexpired term would be best served if they lived in the area that will become District 6.
That way, they’ll be eligible for re-election in November.
Barton was elected County auditor on Nov. 6, but must be appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley to fill the unexpired term of former auditor Cyrus Spradley before he can take office.
To that end, every member of the Aiken County Legislative Delegation on Monday signed a letter requesting that Gov. Haley make the appointment that was then faxed to her office.
Spradley retired earlier this year. Though the unexpired term is up in July 2013, Barton will continue to hold that position for four additional years.
The term of auditor runs concurrent with Aiken County’s fiscal year.
“I have advised Charles Barton not to resign (from County Council) until word comes from the governor’s office,” said delegation chairman Rep. Roland Smith.
Barton has not yet resigned from County Council as there has not yet been a response from Gov. Haley. So, the date for a special election to fill his unexpired term has not been determined.
Candidate filing for office opens at noon on the third Friday after a vacancy occurs, according to state law. A primary must be held on the 11th Tuesday after the vacancy, and a special election must be on the 18th Tuesday after the vacancy occurs.
“The paperwork has been sent. When it will be approved, I don’t know,” Barton said.
There are two years left on Barton’s term on County Council.