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MAYOR PRO TEM SELECTION MAY CHANGE
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MAYOR PRO TEM SELECTION MAY CHANGE

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If Greensboro City Council member Earl Jones has his way, Greensboro apparently would become the second large North Carolina city after Durham to make a district council member its mayor pro tem, but nothing is stopping any of the other large cities from doing it as well.

After the November City Council election, Jones argued that, as senior council member in a district election system, he should become Greensboro's mayor pro tem.The mayor pro tem presides over council meetings in the mayor's absence but has no other formal duties; the position pays $10,500 annually, $1,000 more than other council positions but $2,000 less than the mayor's job.

Traditionally, the position had gone to the highest at-large vote-getter - Carolyn S. Allen on the new council.

Allen insisted that it was her prerogative to be mayor pro tem for the next two years, and Jones gave in, nominating her for the post and joining in the vote as she was unanimously elected Dec. 4.

But as did other council members, Allen agreed with Jones that in the future, selection of a mayor pro tem should take the city's district election system into account.

Some council members have suggested a system for rotating the position every two years between a district member and an at-large member.

And Jones has called for any change to be written into the city's charter. That would require a local legislative act, which the General Assembly could not vote on until its 1991 long session.

In Durham, where the mayor selects the mayor pro tem from among the other 12 council members, Mayor Chester Jenkins selected Ward 5 council member Sylvia S. Kerckhoff.

But because the mayor serves only a two-year term and council members serve four years, if Jenkins is ousted in 1991, his successor could demote Kerckhoff.

In Charlotte, according to the city charter, the mayor pro tem is selected by a majority of the 11-member council. The position traditionally goes to the top at-large vote getter.

But the city has partisan mayoral and City Council elections, and in December the council passed over the top vote-getter - Republican Richard Vinroot - to select Democrat Cyndee Patterson, whose party holds a majority on the council.

In Raleigh, High Point and Winston-Salem, the City Council selects its mayor pro tem by simple majority.

In High Point the position has traditionally gone to the highest vote-getter on the council. But in 1985, the top vote-getter, Democrat Roy Culler, was passed over by the council's Republican majority in favor of H.O. ``Bill' Williams.

And in 1987, after High Point changed to a new, non-partisan district election system, second-term council member Steve Arnold, the top vote-getter, was passed over in favor of fifth-term member Becky Smothers, who got another two years in the job in December.

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