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Chris Mitchell again chosen as Norris mayor

‘Chuck’ Nicholson is vice mayor

Norris City Recorder Sandy Johnson, left, swears in the five members of the City Council for the next two years. Four of the five are returning members, while one, Chuck Nicholson, is new. Councilmembers are, from left, Loretta Painter, Nicholson, Will Grinder, Bill Grieve and Chris Mitchell. Mitchell was chosen by the council to be mayor again for the next two years, and Nicholson was appoint- ed vice mayor. (photo:G. Chambers Williams III )
Chris Mitchell was chosen mayor again Monday night by the Norris City Council on a 4-1 vote, and new councilmember Charles “Chuck” Nicholson was selected on a unanimous vote to be the new vice mayor, replacing Bill Grieve.

Councilwoman Loretta Painter made the motions to appoint Mitchell and Nicholson, with the only vote in opposition coming from Councilman Will Grinder, who objected to Mitchell being chosen as mayor.

He had told The Courier News right after the Nov. 8 city election that he felt he should be appointed mayor because he polled the most votes among the five people elected to council. He received two more votes than Mitchell did.

Although the Norris council has traditionally chosen the top vote-getter to serve as mayor – because the mayor’s position is not itself on the ballot, it was noted by others at Monday’s meeting that there is nothing in the city charter that requires choosing the top-polling candidate to serve as mayor.

Mitchell now begins his eighth two-year term as mayor,

When choosing the mayor came up on the agenda just after Nicholson was seated and sworn in, Painter briefly took over as chair of the meeting and immediately nominated Mitchell. Councilman Bill Grieve seconded her motion.

During the discussion period before the vote, Grinder said that move made him “sad.”

“It seems like history is repeating itself,” he said, adding: “Any of the five of us up here probably could do this job well. [But] I think the majority of the city of Norris wants a change.”

There were no comments from the audience before the vote, but after Mitchell’s nomination was approved, Norris resident George Miceli complained that the process was too quick, He said he felt that all councilmembers who were interested in becoming mayor should have been given the opportunity to state their own reasons and qualifications for being chosen.

After Mitchell accepted the mayor’s position, he took over as chair of the meeting again, at which time Painter nominated Nicholson for vice mayor. In the election, Nicholson outpolled Mitchell by one vote, and was just one vote behind Grinder in the final tally.

Under tradition, that would have netted him the vice mayor position anyway.

Grieve, who had been vice mayor the past two years, seconded Painter’s motion, and the vote was unanimous.

Still, Grinder commented again after that vote that “I am sad. I don’t feel very good about it.”

In the election, Grinder topped the field with 496 votes, followed by Nicholson’s 495 and Mitchell’s 494. In fourth place was Grieve, with 468 votes, followed by Painter, the only woman on the council, with 460. Only five people ran for the five council seats.

Two years ago, however, challengers Grinder and Jill Holland Ryan outpolled Mitchell by larger margins – with Grinder getting 654 votes to Ryan’s 646 and Mitchell’s 625. Grieve was in fourth place, with 604 votes, followed by Painter with 561.

And in a break with tradition, the council voted in split decisions to give Mitchell the mayor’s job for two more years, and Grieve was chosen as vice mayor, turning down Grinder’s push to be mayor and Ryan’s expectation of being vice mayor.

Although six candidates had filed by the Aug. 18 deadline to seek the five open council seats in the Nov. 8 election, one of the then-current council members, Robert M. Sain, later withdrew from the race, citing a lack of time.