The Acreage community is mourning the loss of Indian Trail Improvement District Supervisor Gary Dunkley, who died on Saturday, April 28 at age 62.
ITID President Betty Argue said she has put several items on the Wednesday, May 16 meeting agenda to recognize Dunkley’s service to the district.
Dunkley was first elected to the board in November 2012 and was re-elected to a second four-year term in November 2016.
“The board hasn’t officially had that discussion, however, I put forward some ideas that we’re going to have on the agenda for the May meeting,” Argue said. “One of them was to do a brick in the Garden of Hope that is part of the park expansion.”
She added that Supervisor Carol Jacobs has decided that she wanted to do that personally.
Dunkley spearheaded the community garden project at Hamlin House, so Argue is proposing something there in his memory.
“I have put forward that we do a dedication and we memorialize him there,” she said. “We’re going to have a plaque there that will be similar to the ones that will be done for the trees at the Acreage Community Park expansion in the Garden of Hope area. We’re going to do a plaque renaming it for him. We will have a bench, and he loved his Jamaican fruit trees, so we’re going to find some fruit trees. I have asked staff to bring together a proposal, and then we’ll have a public dedication.”
Argue said ITID staff is putting together what the cost would be for that idea, which will be considered May 16.
“Obviously, we can’t talk amongst ourselves about it, so I put those ideas forward,” she said, explaining that she has spoken to District Manager Rob Robinson, who conveyed to her that the other board members were agreeable to her suggestions.
She added that Robinson has met with the Dunkley family. The family wrote a memorial to Dunkley, which has been posted on the district web site and shared on Facebook, which has many postings from people sharing their condolences.
“What I was trying to do was look for really what represented him so that we can memorialize him in the district,” she said.
The May agenda will also include the task of appointing someone to replace Dunkley. The district’s rules set out specific deadlines to fill the vacancy.
“We have 30 days to appoint somebody, but because there is more than two years and 81 days left in his term, it has to be on the next available election ballot,” Argue said. “So, even though we appoint somebody in the interim, the seat will be on the ballot in November, or August if there is a primary.”
Argue said details will have to be worked out with the Supervisor of Elections Office. “I don’t think that the deadline is here yet, but I did do an e-mail to our legal staff and to the district manager, and I know that they’re trying to handle everything,” she said.
Argue’s understanding is that there will not be a special election, but the seat will be determined at the next regularly scheduled election, and the person elected would serve the remainder of Dunkley’s term. She added that filling Dunkley’s seat will mean four of the five supervisor seats will be up for election in the next election, with Argue the only supervisor whose seat will not be open.
“Potentially, Indian Trail is about to have some major changes in November,” she said. “We’ve got four seats up for election. That’s a lot. It’s enough to change the whole makeup of the board.”
Argue said board members have been asked to think about who their nominees would be to appoint someone to fill the vacancy until the election.
“They have to qualify for all the same things that a candidate would, to be appointed, so they have to make sure that the person has already agreed to sit in that seat should the board agree to it, and they have to qualify,” she said. “The one thing that I’m still waiting for legal clarification on is what the process is for ensuring that they actually qualify.”
She explained that normally, a candidate must qualify through the Supervisor of Elections Office.
“Essentially, whatever nominations that are put forward at the meeting, then the board will vote on those nominations for the interim appointment,” Argue said.
With four supervisors, the decision could be problematic, with the necessity to get three votes in favor of one nominee, but Argue was optimistic they will appoint someone to fill the seat.
“I don’t know how contentious it’s going to be,” she said. “I think it’s going to depend on who is put forward. There are probably some people who are more palatable than others. There are some who I will absolutely object to and won’t even consider. There’s a couple of people who would be my first choice.”
She said in considering appointees, she is trying to consider what Dunkley would want.
“We’re not required to do that, but it’s his seat. He did run for it, and he was in his second term. I think he would want somebody who is going to be committed to the community and committed to serving Indian Trail,” Argue said. “There were certain characteristics that were very important to him, like focusing on drainage and financial accountability. Those were things that he really wanted.”