Uncharted: How To Fill The City Council Vacancy Of Evette Brantley

Usually, the replacement process to fill a vacancy on the City Council is clear cut, according to the City Charter: members of the legislative body fill the unexpired portion of the term.

The death of long-serving council member Evette Brantley has skewed tradition because it came after election, but prior to oath of office.

City lawyers continue to research the matter as new council members prepare to receive the oath Dec. 1.

From the charter:

(c) Council members shall serve for a term of two years from the first day of December next succeeding their election and until their successors are elected and have qualified.
(d) Whenever a vacancy occurs, for any reason, in the membership of the city council, such vacancy shall be filled for the unexpired portion of the term by a majority vote of the city council members from the same political party as the council member vacating such office. If there are no other members from the same political party as the member vacating such office, the vacancy shall be filled by majority vote of the whole number of council members. No person shall be elected to fill a vacancy on the city council unless he/she is a resident and registered voter of the city and is a member of the same political party as the person vacating such office. No person shall be elected to fill a vacancy in the office of any council member unless he/she is also a resident and registered voter in the same council district as the person vacating such office.

By the language in Section C, it would appear logical the term of the seat expires December 1 and an election should be called to fill it.

Theoretically, the council could still fill the seat prior to December 1 and keep the person in place until completion of an election. See Section C again. Perhaps that person is also the candidate selected by the 132nd Democratic Town Committee District to run.

Does the state have an official role in this decision? No, according to a spokesperson for Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. This review comes under the purview of the City Charter and City Attorney’s Office.

So it looks like the city legal opinion could flow a few ways based on charter language, potential case history and political expediency. That never enters into anything, right?



  1. What constitutes the qualification to hold office, the election, or the oath?

    If you take the oath of office (council) but have not won the election is it valid for you to hold that office?
    And vice versa, If you win an election for the office of the council but fail to take the oath are you barred from holding your duly elected seat of office.

    Is the election invalid if you don’t take the oath?

    What has more of legal standing, the election or oath, to the office in question?

    If the election, one can say the person who fills the vacancy of the elected winner and resumes their duties of the office in question could mean taking the oath of the person who won the election and they are replacing.

    So it comes down to this, is the person replacing the person to resume their duties or filling the vacancy of the office.

    I say to fill the seat, if it gets challenged, fight it. Those lawyers need to eat too. 🙂 It’s what you do. 🙂


    1. The winner of the election not only has to be administered the oath of office (a physical impossibility for Ms. Brantley), AND must file certification of having taken the oath with the City Clerk.
      Just being sworn in does not meet the requirements in the Charter to assume the office.

      The Council could legally fill Brantley’s unexpired term for the next week. Then the term would end and the new person has no right to take the oath and serve in the New Council December 1.

      We all have seen how faulty the rulings of the Bridgeport City attorneys have been in the past….don’t expect great legal reasoning next week

  2. My initial thought was just go to the results of the Nov 3rd general election. Why waste taxpayer money and time on this. Then I looked at the results, Can we say recount?

    Jimmy Colon, R, 121
    Michael Perillo, R, 123
    Dasha T. Spell, WF, 120

    My gut instinct is in a special election, Dasha will get the majority of Democrat votes as she is known for her work in the community and a familiar face in the district. That is unless Kyle L. wants to come back. Both are democrats the DTC are not found of.

  3. First, I agree with the Secretary of the State that this is a matter to be resolved locally in accordance with the City Charter.
    Second, the Charter provisions concerning Council vacancies are clear and unambiguous. As Lenny correctly pointed out, Section 1(d) of Chapter 5 provides that “Whenever a vacancy occurs, for any reason, in the membership of the city council, such vacancy shall be filled for the unexpired portion of the term by a majority vote of the city council members from the same political party as member vacating such office.”
    Council Member Brantley’s death created a vacancy on the current City Council which the Council is entitled to fill.
    When Council Member-elect Brantley fails to take the oath, as required by the Charter, a vacancy on the newly elected will be created which that Council will be empowered to fill.
    Simply stated, the City Charter provides one and only on method of filling ALL vacancies on the Council, regardless of how the vacancy was created. The Council fills the vacancy.


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