BERLIN– The town council elected a temporary vice president last week to serve during the current vice president’s absence.
The Berlin Town Council last week voted unanimously to elect Councilwoman Shaneka Nichols as vice president pro tempore. The decision came after Councilman Dean Burrell, the vice president of the council, announced he’d be on medical leave for close to two months.
“Thank you gentlemen for your consideration,” Nichols said. “Mr. Burrell, I pray for a speedy recovery.”
During a special meeting last Thursday, Burrell told the council he expected to miss the next two months of council due to back surgery.
“For some time now I have had difficulty walking,” Burrell said. “My walking difficulty comes from a problem with my back which keeps me in constant pain. In consultation with my family and doctor I have decided to have my condition addressed by having surgery on my back. My recovery time will be several weeks. I will be away from the council for the months of November and December. It is my expectation to return to my council duties around the first of the year. I ask that you keep me in your prayers.”
Mayor Zack Tyndall wished Burrell a speedy recovery and said that because the town charter made clear that the vice president was meant to take over in the absence of the mayor, he felt the town needed a vice president pro tempore to serve during Burrell’s absence.
“As a matter of addressing the continuity of government our town charter is very clear that in the absence of the mayor the vice president is to take over those responsibilities whether that’s presiding over a public meeting or in the extended absence of the mayor,” he said.
The council went on to approve a motion to create the position. They followed that up with a unanimous vote to select Nichols for the role. Councilman Steve Green, who nominated Nichols, noted that in his years of following the council, he’d noticed the vice president position was typically filled by the council member with the longest tenure but that three of the current members had been elected at the same time. He said he was suggesting Nichols because she’d do well in the role.
“I also think it’s very important for Berlin to maintain diversity at the center of the dais,” he said.
The council voted unanimously in support of the nomination.
“I appreciate that,” she said. “Thank you very much. Mr. Burrell you leave ginormous shoes to fill.”