petition for council members removal?

Will a Blackshear city council member, or members face removal from office?

That’s a question the council may be grappling with after Better Hometown board chairman Mat Boatright asked City Attorney Adam Ferrell to explain a section of the city charter pertaining to the removal of elected officials from office at the close of last week’s tumultuous council meeting. (See related story).

Ferrell was not prepared to discuss the issue without research and advised Boatright he worked at the request of the city council, but Mayor Kevin Grissom told Boatright he’d be more than happy to take Boatright’s request to Ferrell for further review.

As of press time this week, no formal complaint for a council member’s removal had been made. Complaints can be brought by any Blackshear resident.

Removal of an elected official from office requires a Superior Court order following a hearing on the complaint seeking a council members removal.

According to the city charter, the mayor, a council member, or other appointed officers can be removed from office for at least six reasons including:

1. Incompetence, misfeasance, or malfeasance in office;

2. Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude;

3. Failure at any time to possess any qualifications of the office as provided by the city charter or by law;

4. Knowingly violating Section 2.15, which pertains to officials benefiting financially, accepting gifts, or having a private interest that conflicts with their duties as an elected officer of the city, or any other express prohibition of the charter;

5. Abandonment of office or neglect to perform the duties thereof; or

6. Failure for any other cause to perform the duties of office as required by the city charter or by state law.

Removal of any officer or elected official from office can be done one of two ways:

1. By the vote of four council members after an investigative hearing. The officer or officials are entitled to a written notice specifying the ground or grounds for removal and to a public hearing which shall be held not less than ten days after the service of such written notice. Any elected officer sought to be removed from office shall have the right of appeal from the decision of the city council to the Superior Court of Pierce County.

2. By an order of the Superior Court of Pierce County following a hearing on a complaint seeking such removal brought by any resident of the City of Blackshear.

Residents interested in pursuing the removal of a council member from office would most likely try to secure an order from a Superior Court judge for such action. Chief Judge Dwayne Gillis, Judge J. Kelly Brooks, Judge Jeffrey Kight  or Judge Andy Spivey could potentially hear a complaint brought against a Blackshear council member.