Broady is mayor pro tem

Councilman Charles Broady, mayor pro tem

Council divided on vote for new pro tem

The City of Blackshear has a new mayor pro tem, but the council’s decision to elect Councilman Charles Broady (Dist. 4) to the position last Tuesday night was not unanimous.

Councilman Timmy Sapp nominated Broady for the job. Newly elected council members Shawn Godwin and Linda Dennison, Sapp and Broady voted in favor of his appointment while council members Corey Lesseig and Keith Brooks (former mayor pro tem) voted no.

The election of mayor pro tem was not originally on the agenda for discussion at last week’s meeting, but was one of several items Dennison proposed to add just a few minutes after the meeting began. (See related story above.)

Lesseig and Brooks reportedly voted no because of the way in which the matter was handled rather than as a slight to Broady’s ability to do the job.

“We added this and the provision is unless it’s an emergency, do this in the work session  — unless it’s an emergency. We had a work session last week,” Lesseig said, referencing Georgia’s open meetings law that cautions last minute additions to the agenda only be done if necessary.

Blackshear’s city charter does, however, allow for the addition of agenda items if council can pass the measure by a two-thirds vote. The mayor pro tem item was added to Tuesday’s agenda by a 4-2 vote with Sapp, Broady, Godwin and Dennison in favor and Lesseig and Brooks opposed.

Mayor Kevin Grissom reminded the council the mayor pro tem must be available when needed at city hall  — particularly right now when there is no acting city clerk  — and should be a seasoned council member.

“Mr. Charles do you feel like you can be available when we need you, which is frequently?” Grissom asked.

“Yes sir, whatever job I need to do,” Broady replied.

Broady, retired from the U.S. Army, has served three years on the city council.

“Whatever job I can be able to do, I would love to try to do that and be able to learn as much as I possibly can along the way,” Broady told The Times after the meeting.

Sapp’s nomination did not come as a complete surprise to Broady.

“I heard (that might happen), but I did not know for sure,” he says.

Broady was quick to clarify that he had no problem with Brooks’ handling of the position. Brooks served two years as mayor pro tem, including a six month stint as acting mayor after Dick Larson resigned in August 2018.

“I think he’s done an excellent job … I have nothing negative to say about (Brooks’) performance,” Broady later told The Times.

Councilman Godwin, who voted for Broady, also told The Times he had no problem with Brooks’ job performance, but was excited to see Blackshear’s  first ever African-American mayor pro tem elected.

“I think Mr. Keith has done great in the past and ... I appreciate the service that he did for the community while he was mayor pro tem and the acting mayor for a while,” Godwin says. “His name didn’t get nominated and it was time to select a new council member. I’m astonished and proud we have the first ever in Blackshear’s history African American mayor pro tem. I think that shows great progress.”

Councilman Sapp, however, apparently had issues with Brooks  — although he wouldn’t tell The Times.

“I’m going to plead the fifth,” said Sapp when questioned about why he wished to replace Brooks. “I thought it was right to put Charles on there.”

Brooks says he saw the move coming.

“I had heard someone running those four (council members) wanted me gone  — that would be Ms. Mary Lott Walker (former councilwoman and unsuccessful candidate for mayor),” he told The Times.

Lesseig is unhappy about the change.

“One of my first votes on the council was for Keith as mayor pro tempore, and it remains one of my best,” Lesseig told The Times.  “My vote in this case was more in opposition to the unprecedented, irresponsible and indefensible removal of Councilman Brooks than a vote against Mr. Broady. I respect Councilman Broady, I appreciate the work Mr. Broady has done, but this was not about his appointment, this was about Keith’s unfair removal.”

Mayor Grissom agreed.

“I have absolutely nothing against Councilman Broady. I made that very clear, but I was shocked that they just wanted to abruptly change in that meeting because things were going very smoothly and Keith has done a magnificent job,” Grissom says. “And then they just ousted him. I don’t understand … If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”