The Fairfax City Council Tuesday night set a date for Feb. 7 to elect a new mayor to replace Scott Silverthorne, and also unanimously appointed former city councilman Steven C. Stombres — who served as former U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor’s chief of staff — to fill the mayor’s office until then.

The council decided in a unanimous vote after about 25 people in a standing-room-only crowd spoke during a public hearing to express their anger over Silverthorne’s alleged crime of trading methamphetamine for group sex, and to urge city leaders to move forward quickly. Silverthorne resigned from his office in the Northern Virginia city after being arrested.

“That chair should not be left empty,” Gary Perryman, 63, said, referring to the empty seat on the council said that until last week had been occupied by Silverthorne. “That chair should be filled as soon as possible.”

Residents at the meeting who were anxious to put the embarrassment of seeing their mayor facing a felony charge of drug trading behind them, said they were pleased about the decision to hold the non-partisan election as soon as is practically possible after November’s presidential election.

Many had expressed concerns about having to wait until November 2017 to choose a new leader.

“We have to take into consideration when the voting machines will be available,” said Mary McDaniel, 58, who works as a volunteer election officer for the city. “I’m really sad to see that we ended up having to have a special election and the reasons behind it, but that’s the reality we face right now.”