McKENZIE (June 8) — Mason Powers, 155 Blackburn Avenue, McKenzie, served only one hour as the councilman for Ward II.
Powers made application to serve as the councilman to fill the unexpired term of David Hochreiter, who resigned in May after moving from the city limits. Mayor Jill Holland recommended Powers to complete Hochreiter’s term and the council unanimously concurred. Powers was administered the oath of office and voted on several issues, including the 2017-18 budget. City officials were reportedly told Powers resided in Ward II by the Carroll County Election Commission.
However, following the meeting, city officials were alerted Powers actually resides in the same ward as Councilwoman Cassie Allen, who was absent from the meeting. Allen resides at 25 Blackburn Avenue.
McKenzie is the lone city in Carroll County with wards, which also includes one minority ward. The boundary lines of the wards are extremely gerrymandered for wards II and III.
This is not the first time confusion over residency in a ward has occurred. A few years ago, it was discovered one councilman was elected and served in a ward, in which he did not reside. The boundary was the street in front of his house. The Carroll County Election Commission had certified his residency in the district, only to learn later he did not.
The Council had a bare quorum to conduct business Thursday. It first appeared the city lacked a quorum with only three of six council members in attendance. Councilmen Gene Hale, Jessie Townes, and Randy Callahan were in attendance at the 6 p.m. meeting time. With Hochreiter’s resignation and Allen’s absence, the city sent a police cruiser to Councilman Charles Pruneau’s home to provide a ride to the meeting. Pruneau is recuperating from surgery on his shoulder and could not drive. He arrived at the meeting with his arm bandaged and secured and took his seat to gain the necessary quorum.
The city is again advertising to fill the vacancy of Hochreiter.