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Elizabethtownofficials admitted they would struggle to function after the death of Mayor Tim Walker on Friday but said forging ahead is the best way to honor his memory.
Elizabethtown City Council must appoint a new mayor to finish out Walker’s term through 2014 within 30 days, according to Kentucky state law. If the council fails to choose a replacement in the allotted amount of time, the governor will appoint a successor.
According to Kentucky statute, any replacement must be at least 21 years of age, a registered voter and a resident of Elizabethtown.
City Attorney D. Dee Shaw said the city was still coming to grips with Walker’s death Friday morning but would comply with state law in finding a replacement to serve out the term.
“We’re all just in a state of shock,” she said.
Finance Director Steve Park said Executive Assistant Charlie Bryant will manage the administrative duties of the city in Walker’s stead until a replacement is appointed.
The council also must select a chairperson to lead meetings. If Walker’s replacement is chosen from the existing six-member council, the vacancy on the governing body must then be filled by the council. Council members cannot vote for themselves in selecting a replacement, according to the city.
Early Friday morning, a group of local officials gathered in Park’s office to discuss the need to reschedule Monday’s meeting, where the council was expected to adopt its annual operating budget. Some felt a cancellation was appropriate while others wanted to hold out until funeral arrangements were made. Park said he believes Walker would want the city to press on and have the meeting.
Ultimately, the city elected to cancel the 4:30 p.m. session. Councilman Ron Thomas said a special meeting will be called later to address the budget.
Had Walker lived, Park said, he would have cruised to a victory in the next election and his popularity would likely have kept him in office for years.
“He could have been mayor as long as he wanted to,” he said.
Elizabethtown Alcoholic Beverage Control Officer Tom Reynolds said Walker’s death leaves with it a hole.
“He was an A1 good person,” Reynolds said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.