Manassas City Council appoints interim member

The Manassas City Council voted unanimously Monday to appoint Ralph Smith as an interim council member to replace Vice Mayor Ken Elston, who resigned effective July 31.

Smith will serve as interim council member until following a special election Nov. 5 to fill the remaining three years of Elston's term.

Smith has worked for the city's election office for 20 years. He previously worked for the U.S. Social Security Administration. He also was previously president of the Prince William County Chapter of the NAACP.

Council member Ian Lovejoy, who is running against Del. Lee Carter, D-50th, was absent. Mayor Hal Parrish said during the meeting he spoke to Lovejoy, who would have supported the appointment.

Elston, who was first elected in 2014 and most recently reelected in November, is planning to move to High Point, N.C., to work as the associate dean of arts and sciences and director of performing arts at High Point University.

Those interested in being candidates for the special election in November must submit their paperwork to the city by Aug. 16, said Patty Prince, the city’s spokeswoman.

There will be a second special election on the ballot in November. Manassas School Board member Kenneth Nixon, who was elected last November, resigned in January. The school board appointed Peter O’Hanlon to serve as interim member until the end of December. The city will hold a special election on Tuesday, Nov. 5, to fill the remaining three years in Nixon’s term.

After thanking council and staff for welcoming him, Smith said he looks forward to working on council.

"It warms my heart to see each of you," Smith said to the crowd that had attended the meeting. "Understand I appreciate and love every one of you and thank you."

Prince William County resident Lloyd Marshall said he attends the same church as Smith and he's known him for 15 years.

"There is no one more deserving to be appointed," Marshall said. "I think he'll do a fantastic job. To have someone like Ralph who has their finger on the community, that brings more understanding and insight to the council."

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