Greene sworn in to fill council vacancy
Sally Greene is back in the saddle again.
The former councilwoman was sworn in Monday to fill a council vacancy created when Penny Rich resigned to take a seat on the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
Greene, a two-term councilwoman who previously served from 2003 to 2011, will complete Rich’s term, which ends in December.
She has said that she will file for election in the summer in pursuit of a permanent seat on the council.
“In sum, I’ve never been prouder to be your representative at this table,” Greene said. “I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity and I promise to do my best and I’m ready to get back to work.”
Last week, the council appointed Greene in a 7-1 vote from among 11 applicants vying to fill the vacancy. Amy Ryan was the only other applicant to receive a vote.
Greene received the oath of office from Orange County District Court Judge Beverly Scarlett, who helped start the county’s Drug Treatment Court.
Greene touted the effectiveness of the program, which the state cut funding to in 2011, along with others across North Carolina.
Orange County, however, has continued to provide money so the program can continue to operate.
“That’s just one indication of the kind of funding that used to exist at higher levels of government that doesn’t anymore,” Greene said. “More and more the buck stops here with local government, and when that is the case, our challenges become really great. We obviously have a budget challenge, but these are human challenges.”
Greene said the town must remain steadfast in its environmental protections, continue to focus on transit and other transportation opportunities and remain committed to green development.
She also said the town must continue to find more ways to increase affordable housing opportunities.
“We must continue to find new creative ways to solve the affordable housing problem, including for affordable rental,” Greene said. “We must remember that when the economy is weak, we have a special duty to those who are just one paycheck away from homelessness.”
In the weeks leading up to the appointment, there was much discussion about whether to choose a newcomer or someone with council experience.
In choosing Greene, the council placed a premium on previous council experience. Greene was the only one of the 11 applicants who had served on council.
“The community has had the confidence in Sally the last two elections prior and we have also recent community support in an onslaught of email for her,” Councilwoman Laurin Easthom said last week. “In my opinion she is the most qualified, has the most experience and that’s what this council needs at this time.”
The seat Greene now holds will be up for grabs again in the Nov. 5 municipal election, along with the mayor’s seat held by Mark Kleinschmidt and three council seats held by Easthom, Ed Harrison and Gene Pease.
Easthom announced last week that she would not seek re-election.
The filing period for the municipal election begins July 5 at noon and ends at noon on July 19.
The council also adopted a resolution thanking Rich for her service to the town.
In other business, the council tabled until March discussion about a resolution that would affirm the smoking ban recently adopted by the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
State law allows municipalities to decide whether smoking bans adopted by counties apply within municipal jurisdictions.
A municipality may opt in by approving a resolution doing so. And it may opt out by giving the county written notice of its intention. After such a notice is received by the county, the ban will terminate after 30 days.
In November, the commissioners approved the ban on a 6-1 vote banning smoking in most public places.
The county, for example, bans smoking on publicly owned property such as parks and sidewalks as well as privately owned places where the public is invited.
A person caught smoking in one of the banned areas could receive a $25 citation.
State law already bans smoking in most bars, restaurants and lodging establishments,
The county’s ban goes a step further, for example, by banning someone in a restaurant or bar in a downtown location from standing outside on a public sidewalk while smoking a cigarette or cigar.
It also applies to privately-owned indoor spaces where the public is invited, such as stores and office complexes.