Byrge had been serving on the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals.
Earlier this month, McMasters announced he was seeking applicants to fill the vacancy for Ward 5.
The authority for making the appointment for the Ward 5 vacancy shifted to McMasters under the City Charter after council failed to fill the position within thirty days of the vacancy. Council could not agree on a replacement for Tracy Dudley during its Feb. 22 meeting.
McMasters recently made an effort to contact Dudley to see if she would consider returning to City Council, but Dudley declined. Dudley resigned from council in January.
Additionally, McMasters faced criticism from some city council members for failing to fill the vacant seat.
Previously, McMasters said he did not know when he would appoint a new Ward 5 representative but said he was considering others after two applicants — Eva Newby and Jerry Wamsley — failed to get enough votes from council members.
McMasters said he had not eliminated either candidate, but he anticipated “it may take a couple months before I personally would consider either. This is true even if one or the other withdrew their application.”
A motion to appoint Newby, a black woman, failed after three councilmen, Tyler Starline, Glenn Otto and Richard Shaw, voted against the measure. Councilwoman Janell Smith abstained from the vote.
Newby also is on the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals with Byrge, who is white.
The vote was taken after Councilman Ed Lyons asked his colleagues about their willingness to appoint a black woman to the vacant seat on council. That prompted McMasters to say that "Ed is about the stupidest person I think I ever met and a sleazeball."
McMasters said in the email that based on Lyons’ comments and his own reaction, he was putting off considering Newby or Wamsley.
“There are two exceptions to this,” McMasters said in the email. “The first being if council scheduled a special session of council and council passes a motion with at least five votes that asks me to nominate any of the three candidates we interviewed, I will appoint that individual. I recommend next week before the work session as an opportune time. The second is that if Ed resigns I will appoint Ms. Newby.
” … Since I had not considered this as a high priority in my decision making process until now, it is unlikely that I will appoint anyone in the near future unless council takes advantage of one of the two exceptions.”