Pauley to lead new council; Gilbert elected vice chair

WINNSBORO – Four county council members were sworn into office Monday evening during the regular council meeting.

Douglas Pauley (District 5) and Clarence Gilbert (District 7) were re-elected to office, both serving their second full four-year terms. Also sworn in were newcomers Dan Ruff (District 1) and Peggy Swearingen (District 3). The four newly elected and re-elected members joined the three sitting members whose terms have two years left.

The inauguration and organization ceremony was held an hour before the regular scheduled council meeting. A reception followed the swearing-in ceremony officiated by the Honorable Judy Bonds, Fairfield County Clerk of Court.

Following the reception, Councilman Pauley was elected chair and Councilman Gilbert was elected vice chair.

After opening the regular meeting, Pauley called for two amendments to the agenda – to add a public comment session and a county council time following the executive session.

During the abbreviated meeting, council adopted the meeting calendar for the year and went into executive session to discuss proposed contractual arrangements involving both the selection of a county attorney and an interim administrator.

Following the executive session, council voted 7 – 0 to authorize Chairman Douglas Pauley to negotiate a contractual arrangement with former County Attorney Tommy Morgan to serve as attorney for the council.

No action was taken regarding hiring an interim administrator. Council has called a special called meeting on Friday, Jan. 13 at 6 p.m. to discuss and possibly vote on the hiring of the interim administrator.

During County Council time, the four newly seated council members thanked their supporters and called for the division on council to be resolved for the betterment of the county and decried the departure from the county government in the last two years of many good employees. They also talked about the need to work together and be transparent in order to move the county forward.

Swearingen noted that the county has empty EMS stations, a shortage of deputies, and a need for more firefighters.

“We must make our citizens our first priority,” Swearingen said. “We want to become the county that raises the bar.”

Gilbert told the citizens that, “we heard you at the last election and we want to restore your confidence in our council. We need to get started on our budget, the wastewater treatment plant, evaluate our finances, fill key positions in this government and restore employee morale.”

Gilbert said he also wants council to find a way to build a new animal shelter for the county.

“We must not procrastinate on the things important to the survival of the county,” Gilbert said.

Ruff noted that, “There are a lot of things [in the county] that we need to fix. We’ve been elected to serve, not to receive. Our citizens must come first. We want to be so transparent that everyone knows what’s going on,” Ruff said. “We want our county to be a county we’re all proud of.”

Pauley said the ultimate goal of council should be to make the county a successful community to live and work in.

“I look forward to when we can all enjoy a strong economic growth, improved employee morale and transparency with our fellow tax-paying citizens.”

Two of the seated members, Green and Robinson, also expressed their congratulation to the newly elected council members, and expressed their desire to work together.

Fairfield County Council’s regular scheduled meetings are held the second and fourth Monday of the month, at 6 pm, in Council Chambers located at 250 N Walnut Street or can be viewed live on the County’s YouTube channel:

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