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Canton alderman resigns

Just 18 months after winning the second of two open alderman seats in the town of Canton, James Markey told the Canton Board of Aldermen/Women June 13 that he was resigning his office due to a change in residency. 

“This past fall, Bethany and I both received and accepted positions an hour from our home on Haywood Drive. In the months following, after much prayer and discussion, my wife and I concluded that our lives were taking a turn that we could not have anticipated two years ago,” Markey said. “Through prayerful consideration we concluded our time living in Canton must come to an end.”

Canton’s board lauded Markey, who wasn’t seated with the rest of the board when the meeting was called to order but instead addressed Mayor Zeb Smathers, Mayor Pro Tem Gail Mull, Alderman Dr. Ralph Hamlett and Alderwoman Kristina Smith from the podium.

Markey, who changed his voter registration to a Hendersonville address that same day, said his time as an alderman had been “truly rewarding” and something he would cherish. 

“I’ll not call you alderman any longer,” Smathers told him. “I’ll simply call you friend.”

Hamlett, professor emeritus of political science and Brevard College, said he’d learned a lot from Markey, the board’s only non-Democrat. Markey ran as an unaffiliated candidate in 2017. 

“Sitting next to me, at meetings, you informed my thinking,” Hamlett said. “This board is better off because of you. The town of Canton is.”

Mull said she was grateful for Markey’s contributions to the board.

“We appreciate everything you’ve done, everything you accomplished,” she said. “We wish you well and may God go with you.”

Rounding out the praise was Smith, who came in during the same election as Markey.

“Thank you for your service. If there is one word to describe you, it would be that. Service — to community, your church, your faith and your family,” she said. “I appreciate your time and your friendship on this board.”

Markey’s departure leaves the town with the option of appointing someone to the open seat, or leaving it vacant. 

“The candidate filing period will open as usual July 5, but with a vacancy for a two-year unexpired term, regardless of if the town appoints someone or not, or when that happens,” said Robbie Inman, director of the Haywood County Board of Elections. 

To Smathers’ way of thinking, it’s best not to let Markey’s seat remain empty until the election. 

“I understand the ease in leaving the seat vacant until November, but personally, I would rather have a full board that fulfills its obligation to represent our citizens and voice their concerns as provided in our charter,” he said. “We are good as a three-member board, but better with four. “

If appointment becomes the way to go, Smathers hopes for a quick but thorough search. 

“I suspect it will involve some type of application procedure,” Smathers said. “But it is important to me that our process is open and efficient. It is my preference to have someone in that seat by the first of August, if not sooner.”

Whoever is appointed to the board could opt to run and serve out the rest of Markey’s remaining four-year term, or decide against it. In 2017, Markey narrowly beat Carl Cortright 187-179. Cortright said he wasn’t sure if he’d run. 

“It all depends on what the board does next with that seat,” he said. 

Hamlett and Mull have already said they would stand for re-election to their four-year seats in the General Election, which will take place Tuesday, Nov. 5.

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