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10/25/2012
Law fuzzy on term start for executive, Election winner could take office a week later - News Journal

Councilman Bob Weiner, an attorney, said any taxpayer or the winner of the election has the standing to challenge the matter in Superior Court in the event the county decides that Clark should remain in office until January.

Weiner noted the possibility that, if Gordon or Blake don’t take office on Nov. 13, someone could argue that the office is vacant and that the newly elected County Council president, Democrat Chris Bullock or Republican Mike Protack, could wind up becoming county executive.

Weiner also said the Legislature should clean up the law, which he said contradicts itself, which led to the controversy.


Law fuzzy on term start for executive, Election winner could take office a week later

Oct 25, 2012     Written by Adam Taylor The News Journal

A state law suggests the next New Castle County executive must take office a week after the Nov. 6 general election, seven weeks earlier than anyone had thought.

Two Widener law professors, a former county attorney and a former county councilman who is a lawyer said the law is clear: Democrat Tom Gordon or Republican Mark Blake should begin the term on Nov. 13.

County attorney Gregg Wilson disagrees, saying that the new executive should not take office until Jan. 1.

The controversy stems from the fact that County Executive Paul Clark is serving the unexpired term of Chris Coons, who left the office in November 2010 to become a U.S. senator. Clark was automatically elevated from his position as County Council president, as the law provides.

One portion of the law says that when a county executive doesn’t complete his term, the county council president fills in and the next elected county executive takes over on the first Tuesday after the election.

“The point of the law is that a county council president filling the position shouldn’t be extended any longer than needed,” said Bill Rhodunda, county attorney from 1997-2001. “A plain reading of the law is that whoever wins the election on Nov. 6 will take office a week later.”

Wilson, meanwhile, said he’s focusing on another section of the law that says, “The vacancy shall be filled for the remainder of the term by the president of the county council,” which would mean Clark serves until January.

The county isn’t ready to take a firm stand on the issue, however.

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