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Town Council Member Elected Despite Dying That Week

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A North Carolina town re-elected a town council member to office even though he died six days before the election.

Franklin council member Billy Mashburn died Nov. 1 after a three-year battle with cancer, fellow council member Barbara McRae told WLOS.

"We had a meeting Monday night. That was very difficult to have that empty seat there," she said. "The staff had put a bow there. It was harder than I thought. We will always miss Billy. He was a special person and a friend to all of us. It will be a hard seat to fill."

Despite his death, Mashburn was still re-elected to his position during a Nov. 7 election, a full six days after his passing. 

But Board of Elections member Melanie Thibault doesn't think Masburn was re-elected because voters were simply ignorant of his passing. Rather she believes the town intentionally voted for Mashburn as a tribute to his memory.

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"This is a very small town," she said. "He was very well respected. I would say a lot of people came out of respect for Billy to vote for him."

According to his obituary in The Franklin Press, Mashburn attended Southwestern Community College in Sylva, North Carolina, and worked as a paralegal in Franklin until he retired in 2014. He was first sworn in as a member of the town council in 1992 and has held the position since then.

During his tenure, he also served on several committees and briefly acted as vice-mayor. 

"Billy loved his time serving on the Franklin Town Board, and he had a passion for the water and sewer infrastructure," his obituary read. "He was instrumental in the construction of the water and wastewater treatment plants. He loved his town, and the friends he made during his tenure."

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The town council is now working to appoint a new member to fill Mashburn's vacant seat, according to WLOS. 

"In a municipal election, if a candidate dies, the seat is declared vacant, and the seat will be appointed by the town council," said Thibault. 

While it's unclear when the vacant seat will be filled, Thibault said the council is taking its duty to appoint a sixth member seriously.

"Of course, people are putting up names and making suggestions. And we have our own ideas," she said. "So, we’ll vet those and find our candidate who would be best for the town of Franklin."

Sources: WLOS, The Franklin Press / Featured Image: justgrimes/Flickr / Embedded Images: Billy Mashburn/FacebookErik (HASH) Hersman/Flickr

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