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Hayneville council makes appointment to vacant District A seat

Updated: Mar. 21, 2018 at 10:20 PM CDT
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Hayneville’s town council voted to appoint Justin Pouncey to the vacant District A seat....
Hayneville’s town council voted to appoint Justin Pouncey to the vacant District A seat. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

HAYNEVILLE, AL (WSFA) - Hayneville's town council voted to appoint Justin Pouncey to the vacant District A seat. The vote took place at a special called meeting Wednesday, which was held to discuss setting a date for a special election to fill the seat.

During the meeting, Councilwoman Lula Tyson-Bailey made a motion to make the appointment, and it passed by a 3-2 vote. There was also a motion passed to not approve any of the suggested special election dates presented by Mayor David Daniel.

Michael Strickland, the attorney representing the Town of Hayneville, told the council at the meeting that this decision must be approved by Circuit Judge Terri Lovell who is overseeing this case.

The previous person to hold the seat was Carol Scrushy, but that filling of the council seat was deemed by the Lowndes County Circuit Judge to be "illegal and void." That decision was upheld by the Supreme Court of Alabama.

It started after the August 2016 municipal election. The town consists of two districts: District A, which has three council members, and District B, which has two council members.

In August, District B elected Cynthia McDonald and Sharon Reeves. District A elected Lula Tyson Bailey, Roy Meadows, and Kim Payton.

Meadows won but was later disqualified due to his past criminal record, leaving a vacancy. Concerns mounted in the community as citizens called out the council for not having meetings and doing what needs to be done to run the town.

A special election was then set for March 21, 2017, but it was postponed after a judge found that election date was defective.

Voters must have 60 days notice of a special municipal election and Lowndes County Circuit Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell indicated that Hayneville officials provided only 36 days notice.

The special election was then scheduled for May 23 and Carole Scrushy won.

On July 7, 2017, Judge Bozeman Lovell filed an order indicating that the May 23, 2017 election was "illegal and void"' because the city did not follow municipal election laws. She took testimony and received evidence from the plaintiffs - listed as Darshini Bandy, Connie Johnson and Justin Pouncey - and the defendants - listed as Carol Scrushy, Kim Payton, Rickey Bell and George Lee Davis.

After considering the testimony, pleadings, motion, and arguments of counsel, Lovell wrote that the Hayneville mayor "willfully and deliberately chose not to follow the prior orders of this court requiring the town and its officials to strictly follow the Alabama statutes that govern municipal elections."

The judge said Mayor David Daniel admitted during his testimony that he and another council member, Kim Payton, failed to attend a single regularly scheduled council meeting in 2017, which prevented any council action for lack of a quorum.

Judge Lovell also wrote that the mayor "took it upon himself to set the special election for May 23, 2017, without the knowledge or permission of the town council."

Lowndes County Probate Judge John Hulett fired back at Lovell's findings and her order, saying she was out of line and overstepping her authority.

Judge Lovell also wrote that the mayor "took it upon himself to set the special election for May 23, 2017, without the knowledge or permission of the town council."

After being deadlocked on a number of appointments back in November 2017, Mayor David Daniel felt that an upcoming meeting with the League of Municipalities would provide some guidance and help get some of the issues resolved.

The Supreme Court of Alabama denied a petition filed by the town of Hayneville and Carol Scrushy for a writ of mandamus directing the Lowndes Circuit Court to vacate its July 7, 2017 decision.

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