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Supervisors could deadlock on vote, Simpson, Cooper-Jones again seeking chairmanship

A deadlocked vote could be on the horizon for Prince Edward County supervisors in deciding who will lead the board as chair for the next two years.

The board will meet on Tuesday at 7 p.m. to elect new leadership for the next two years.

Farmville 101 District Supervisor Howard Simpson and Farmville 801 District Supervisor Pattie Cooper-Jones both say they’re interested in serving as chair.

A 4-4 vote in January 2014 — deadlocked between Cooper-Jones and Simpson — resulted in a coin toss for the positions of both chair and vice chair, which led to chance deciding that Simpson would serve as chair and Cooper-Jones as vice chair.

“Right now I see the board vote on the chair is going to be 4-4,” said Buffalo 501 District Supervisor C.R. “Bob” Timmons, who says he’s supporting Cooper-Jones. “There’s not enough support on the board to do a coin toss,” he said.

PEchairtoss-HEADSHOTS

Pattie Cooper-Jones

“I’m not in favor, nor do I think there’s enough support on the board, to allow it to continue on as Howard being the chair and Pattie being the vice chair,” Timmons said, “because it gives no incentive to make a change. [It gives] no incentive for the vote to be taken anymore, because you’ve got Howard as chair, he wants to be chair, but he doesn’t have the votes to be chair. And then the other side is Pattie, she’s vice chair but she wants to be chair, but there’s not enough votes for her to be chair. So, there’s really no incentive for the vote to change. …”

Howard Simpson

Howard Simpson

With an anticipated deadlock, Timmons said he sees two options for the board to consider instead of tossing a coin again to make the decision. One is to continue with the election of officers during the reorganizational portion of the meeting until the board can come to a consensus as to who’ll be the chair, and another is to appoint an interim or temporary chair until a permanent one can be elected by a majority of the board.

Timmons said he’ll likely push for appointing an interim chair.

“The two candidates that are running for chair cannot be interim chair … Those two people would be out of contention for that. Then the interim chair would act as chair until the process is completed.”

“Yes, I’ve enjoyed it,” Simpson said of serving as chair for the past two years. “I’ve enjoyed working everyday for the last 24 years for the people and helping the people in Prince Edward County [and] in my district.”

Before serving as chair, Simpson served for many years as the board’s vice chair.

Lockett 201 District Supervisor Robert M. “Bobby” Jones said he’s going to both nominate Simpson for chair and vote for him.

“Howard spends a lot of time working with the position on the board of supervisors,” he said. “He pretty much daily makes visits to the county administrator’s office [and] keeps a close tabs on how things are going.”

Farmville 701 District J.R. “Jim” Wilck said he plans on supporting for Cooper-Jones or Timmons, “if he’s running.”

Timmons told The Herald that he wasn’t seeking or running the position as board chair.

“The situation is that I really think that this year is incredibly important to the board of supervisors. I think with what [Longwood University] President [W. Taylor] Reveley has done, bringing in the vice presidential debate, bringing … 60 million TV viewers, I think it’s a wonderful time for us to make some changes, get some things done and move ahead.”

Wilck said he think’s Simpson has been “locked into the past.”

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity we’ve got and I don’t want to waste it sitting there doing nothing, which has basically what’s happened in the last two years. There’s been no initiatives coming out of the chairman,” calling the past two years “dead.”

“Evidently there [were] some people that were going to vote for Pattie,” Wilck said. “And I thought, ‘Well, okay, if you don’t want to vote for Pattie, vote for Timmons.’ I don’t care, between those two.”

Wilck said if the vote is tied at 4-4 again, he’d “certainly not be in favor of a coin flip. From what I have read, I know one of the options is that you vote a second time and if nobody’s changed their vote, then we can adjourn the meeting and go on to the next month.”

He said that Cooper-Jones was the only sitting supervisor who had participated in the Virginia Association of Counties’ state certified supervisor program, and Timmons had served as vice president of a “mega construction company” and was very familiar with budgets.

Leigh 301 District Supervisor Jerry Townsend, Prospect 601 District Calvin Gray, and Hampden 401 District Odessa Pride could not be reached for comment.