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Wednesday, 26 May 2010 12:34

Graham to vacate spot on Sylva board, but not until casting vote for next year’s budget

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Sylva Commissioner Sarah Graham will step down from the town board at the end of June because her family has decided to move outside town limits.

Graham said she and husband, Bill, had been looking at homes that offered more land for their growing family, when they found a perfect place on Fisher Creek Road.

“Because the house isn’t in the town I have no choice but to resign my position on this board,” said Graham, who lived downtown and loved being part of its vibrant scene.

As a result of Graham’s announcement, the four remaining board members –– Chris Matheson, Danny Allen, Ray Lewis, and Stacy Knotts –– will be left with the task of naming a replacement in June. Mayor Maurice Moody only votes in the case of a tie.

The board underwent a similar process last December. Moody was a sitting town board member when he ran for mayor. He won, but still had two years left on the town board, leaving a vacant seat to be filled on the board.

During that process, Moody was instrumental in searching out his own replacement, Chris Matheson, and ensuring she had the support of the entire board before she was nominated, although he technically couldn’t vote except in a tie.

“Chris has had a unifying effect on the board and has done a good job, and I would hope to find the same type of candidate this time,” Moody said.

Graham said she wanted to serve until the town’s budget for next year was finalized, which means serving until the end of June when the fiscal year ends.

The town board has been divided on the some budget issues for the past four years, most notably over whether the town should make annual financial contributions to the Downtown Sylva Association, a cause particularly close to Graham’s heart.

Moody commended Graham for her work as a commissioner, particularly on issues directly affecting downtown.

“I hate to lose her, but I think when someone is putting their family’s best interest first, you have to support them,” Moody said.

In leaving, Graham said she felt the town is moving in the right direction, and she will continue to work in its best interests.

“I think the town is moving in a great direction and that, given the state of the economy, the town is in a great financial situation,” Graham said. “I look forward to serving Sylva in any way I can.”

Graham served as the director of the Downtown Sylva Association before being elected commissioner. She was instrumental in the revitalization of Bridge Park, a downtown green space and concert venue.

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