Rev. Dr. Jesse Brunson has emerged as a second possible replacement for retiring City Councilman Herbert Rainer.
Rainer, who announced last month that he planned to step down at the end of August, has recommended that former County Commissioner J.D. Willis take his seat on the board.
Brunson, pastor of Galilee United Methodist Church in Laurinburg, said on Wednesday that he also planned to seek the vacate seat.
“I’m excited about the possibility of serving the community,” said the 61-year-old Brunson.
While council has traditionally gone with the outgoing council member’s nominee, such action is not binding.
“I understand that has been the standing tradition, but it is not a written government policy,” said Brunson, a Gibson native. “If there was a policy in place, I would not consider offering my name.”
Councilman Kenton Spencer said having council consider more than one candidate may be “good for the process.”
“I respect Councilman Rainer’s choice and decision, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with opening it up and having other names come forward,” Spencer said. “It has nothing to do with any particular person … it should be a process that allows for citizen input and vetting of the candidate. We should treat it like any other serious appointment.”
But Councilman Curtis Leak said the board should not buck tradition.
Leak added that Rainer reached out to constituents in District 1 before recommending Willis.
“Councilman Rainer did his homework,” Leak said. “He canvassed the district to see who would emerge as the top candidate and J.D. Willis came out number 1. That is why I’m going with Councilman Rainer’s recommendation.”
Councilman Drew Williamson said both Willis and Brunson are qualified to serve on council.
“We’re going to meet later this month to discuss it,” Williamson said. “It would be premature to say anything until then.”
Williamson did say he have to think twice about not accepting Rainer’s nominee. Williamson was appointed after Mayor Tommy Parker recommended him for Parker’s council seat.
“I am both respectful and aware of that tradition,” Williamson said.”Bearing in mind that it is how I came to be on council, I have to give some consideration to that.”
Rainer could not be reached for comment.
Rainer, who has been on the board since 1997, said he felt it was time to step down. His resignation becomes effective Aug. 31. The council has 90 days to name a replacement.