One of three people named Thursday to fill vacant seats on the Pound Town Council has declined the appointment, forcing a pause in the Wise County town’s attempt to reestablish a working council and save its charter.
In a letter dated Friday, George Dean, a former Pound mayor and town manager, told the judges of the 30th Judicial Circuit that he was “surprised” by his appointment, as he thought he had made clear to colleagues and the court that he was not interested in serving.
He was mayor for eight years and town manager for almost six of those, he told the judges: “So I was well aware of all the issues Pound faced and I and Council had the Town on a positive road to recovery; however, I am extremely disappointed in the Town’s direction since 1 July 2020.”
In December 2020, Dean was one of 44 people to sign an unsuccessful petition to recall Stacey Carson, who had succeeded him as mayor earlier that year. He had not sought reelection.
The town council, which has been plagued by infighting in recent years, saw multiple resignations in 2021, and several council members have at times refused to attend meetings. The five-seat body has not had a quorum since December, when one of its three remaining members resigned in what he called a “kamikaze option” to force new council appointments by the circuit court.
On Thursday, the circuit judges appointed Dean, lifelong Pound resident Doris Mullins, and business owner Kensleigh Browning to fill those vacancies. Mullins and Browning were two of four residents who had submitted letters of interest in the positions. Dean’s name had been forwarded to the court by a current council member.
It was not clear at midday Friday when the court might take further action.
The strife surrounding the town council, as well as issues involving the town’s police department and sewer system, thrust the small town into a statewide spotlight last fall, when House Majority Leader Terry Kilgore, R-Scott County, introduced a bill that would revoke Pound’s charter if the town didn’t make significant changes.
The House of Delegates on Friday accepted a state Senate amendment that extends the town’s deadline to show progress from July 1, 2023, to Nov. 1, 2023.