Government in the Town of Clayton is at a standstill as Mayor Josephine Washington awaits direction from state officials on how to proceed.
The town’s regular monthly meeting was canceled Tuesday night and the terms of its five aldermen have run out.
Municipal elections were twice postponed by state officials due to the Covid-19 pandemic and rescheduled this week, Saturday, July 11, but the election for alderman was canceled.
In January, Clayton aldermen passed a proclamation announcing a special election to elect three aldermen on Nov. 3.
The terms of the present five aldermen expired on June 30.
Previously, aldermen had voted to reduce their board from five members to three, but the mayor said there is confusion among state officials as to whether that was a legal move although Washington said she followed all directions given by the state.
The only municipal race slated in Clayton on Saturday is for mayor and pits Alderman Wilbert Washington against incumbent Josephine Washington.
Additionally, the term for Police Chief Bobby Madison Sr. ended June 30 with no one qualifying for the law enforcement position.
With the majority of political positions vacant, Washington said she reached out to Gov. John Bel Edward’s office and Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s office for direction.
“I’ve talked with the governor’s office and secretary of state’s office,” Washington said. “The governor’s office told me (Monday) they will appoint people to fill the positions.”
Multiple phone calls by the Sentinel to the Secretary of State and governor’s offices went unanswered.
The vacancies come at a critical time for Clayton – its 2020-21 annual budget has yet to be approved even though its fiscal year began July 1
Previously in a special June 23 meeting, the group worked to balance its budget in hopes of passing it Tuesday. Cuts in various spending and upping its budgeted fine and DWI amounts highlighted the proposed budget.
Along with budget woes, Clayton continues its struggle to pay a $250,000 Concordia Bank & Trust Co. loan and awaits further instruction from the governor’s office on whether a fiscal administrator will be appointed.
Normally, a fiscal administrator is paid through the municipality’s finances, but in Clayton’s case the town has no money for the administrator’s salary.
Until appointments come down from Edward’s administration, Clayton is in political limbo.
“We are just waiting to hear back from the governor’s office on what to do,” Washington said.