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Mayor Godbold resigns

Weeks of speculation ended Tuesday as Mayor Bill Godboldannounced his resignation, which will be effective April 1.

In a letter read by City Attorney Joe Fernald at the beginningof last night’s board meeting, Godbold said he had consulted withdoctors, friends and family and believed that he can no longerdischarge his duties as mayor.

“My decision is based on personal issues and medical problemsthat have affected my ability to be a full time servant of thepeople of Brookhaven,” Godbold said. “It is with great regrets thatI must make this decision, because I believe we have made greatstrides to make Brookhaven the best city in Mississippi and ourfuture is a bright one.”

Godbold said he was proud of his years as mayor “of this finecommunity and the people who have lived in Brookhaven.”

The 76-year-old William Wallace “Bill” Godbold is in his sixth,non-consecutive term as mayor. Godbold’s time in office has totaledalmost 23 years, from 1965-1973, 1985-1993 and from 1997-2004.

The mayor also offered a bit of advice to his successor.

“Always try to do what you believe in your heart is best forBrookhaven and her people. I know I always have,” Godbold said.

Godbold’s successor will be chosen in a special election andwill fill the remainder of the unexpired term through June2005.

Aldermen were expected to declare the office vacant and set aspecial election date at their April 6 meeting. The election mustbe held within 30-45 days after the vacancy is declared.

City Clerk Iris Rudman Smith, who also announced her resignationlast night, said officials were considering a special election dateof May 18. She said that fits in the time frame following bothGodbold’s and her resignations.

“You can’t do it much earlier than May 18,” Rudman Smithsaid.

A runoff, if needed, could then be held one week later on May 25and the new officials could take office the first of June, RudmanSmith said.

Aldermen unanimously accepted Godbold’s letter ofresignation.

Ward Two Alderman and Mayor Pro Tem Terry Bates said he washoping the mayor could have finished his current term. Bates, whois in his fourth term as alderman, has shared several years inoffice with Godbold.

“I respect him as a man, and he was a great leader for thiscity,” Bates said.

Other aldermen also wished the mayor well in his retirement.

Ward Four Alderman Bob Massengill said the mayor’s decision wasa “difficult and heart-wrenching” one. He urged officials andcitizens to keep the mayor and his family in their prayers.

While not mentioning any specifics, Ward One Alderman DorseyCameron said he hoped the city could continue some of the projectsbegun during Godbold’s administration.

Alderman-at-large Les Bumgarner commented on the mayor’s abilityto state a position and stand by it.

“Everybody knew where you stood with him,” Bumgarner said. “Whenhe told you something, that was the way it was going to be.”

Others in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting also wished the mayorwell.

Chandler Russ, Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerceexecutive vice-president, said he hopes the mayor has a happy andpeaceful retirement.

“I enjoyed working with him the four years we worked together,”Russ said.

City Engineer Carl Ray Furr said he has worked with Godbold overthree terms in office. Furr said he has enjoyed their associationand hoped the mayor’s health will allow him to have an activeretirement.

“In his unique way, he’s done a lot for the city of Brookhaven,”said Furr, while also mentioning the mayor’s pursuit of help forspecial projects. “He actively sought out all types of specialstate and federal funding to keep the tax burden from increasing onthe citizens.”

City officials said they would be planning a retirementreception for Godbold and Rudman Smith. Those plans have not beenfinalized.