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Voters in the town of Pierson are casting ballots by mail through May 19 on whether to eliminate the position of mayor.

The referendum proposes merging the positions of mayor and Town Council chairman into a single position that will preside over, and have a vote in, council meetings.

The way the town’s 1920s-era charter is written, the mayor can do neither of those things.

Instead, the mayor is a nonvoting attendee of Town Council meetings who can speak but not vote on matters being considered by the council.

The position has been vacant since March 2019, when then-Mayor James Sowell passed away. Longtime Town Council Chairman Samuel Bennett has been unofficially handling the mayoral duties since Sowell’s passing.

According to a flyer prepared by Town Attorney Christian Waugh, merging the two positions would make Pierson more like other municipalities in Volusia County that have a strong mayor-council form of government. It would also save the town money by eliminating one position on the Town Council, cutting it from six members to five.

The combined position, if voters approve it, will be an elected office, with the next balloting coming in the general election in November.

The mayor and council members are each paid $3,800 a year, while the chairman is paid $4,500 per year, according to Town Clerk Carmen Spelorzi.

A total of 876 ballots had been mailed by the Volusia County Elections Office as of May 12 to registered voters in Pierson. The ballots can be mailed or returned by hand to the Elections Office at its new location, 1750 S. Woodland Blvd. in DeLand. The deadline for returning ballots is 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 19.

Also, a collection box for ballots has been set up in Pierson Town Hall, 106 N. Center St.

For more information, call Town Hall at 386-749-2661.

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