Mayor’s resignation is expected tonight

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, March 16, 2004

An item on Tuesday night’s board of aldermen meeting agendafurther fuels speculation that Mayor Bill Godbold’s resignation isimminent.

City Attorney Joe Fernald is scheduled to read a letter from themayor, who has been on vacation since the start of this month, atthe beginning of tonight’s meeting. Fernald did not disclose theletter’s contents when questioned Monday.

“It’ll be on the minutes tomorrow night,” Fernald saidyesterday.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Fernald said Godbold, 76, asked him to read the letter.

“He did not want to come to the meeting,” Fernald said.

Other city officials questioned also were unaware of theletter’s contents.

“I’m as anxious as anybody to find out,” said Bonita Bullock,Godbold’s secretary.

Several aldermen contacted said they had seen the item on theagenda but had not seen the letter. They referred to comments theyhad heard around town that the mayor is retiring.

“I guess we’ll all know tonight,” said Alderman-at-large LesBumgarner.

Bumgarner, Ward Four Bob Massengill and Ward Two Alderman andMayor Pro Tem Terry Bates have been mentioned as possiblecandidates should the mayor resign.

Bates had no comment, and Massengill was unavailable Monday.Bumgarner also did not divulge his plans.

“I learned long ago while coaching to not talk about a positionthat’s not open,” Bumgarner said.

Former Ward Four Alderman John Roberts, who lost to Godbold inthe last election, is another possible candidate. Roberts said itwould be premature to comment on his plans.

“The mayor’s still in office,” Roberts said.

In the event of a mayoral resignation, a special election wouldbe needed to fill the remainder of the term through June 2005.Unless there is a special meeting, an office vacancy would bedeclared at the first regular meeting after the retirement’seffective date, said Bullock, who is also the city’s electioncommission chairwoman.

“We will have 30 to 45 days to have an election,” Bullocksaid.

Candidate qualifying would be similar to that for the recentWard Three alderman special election. Candidates would need tocollect petitions with the signatures of 50 qualified voters forthe non-partisan special election, Bullock said.

“It won’t be Democrat or Republican,” she said.

If no candidate receives a majority in the first specialelection, a runoff would be held one week later, Bullock said.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda, chamber of commerce ExecutiveVice-president Chandler Russ is scheduled to discuss a grantapplication for a water and sewer project for a business expansion.Mississippi School of the Arts representatives are expected todiscuss a tree-planting project on the campus, and an EngineeringAssociates will update officials on several city projects.