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Alderman resigns; others won’t run

Alderman Pete Mathews resigned Tuesday night from the MonticelloTown Board, the opening move of what could be an overhaul of townleadership in this year’s municipal elections.

Mathews, who is just shy of completing his second term, isleaving the board after moving outside the city limits, he said.His resignation is effective Jan. 18.

“Gentlemen, I’ve enjoyed it. I’m ready to quit before I losethis,” he joked during the closing of the meeting.

Mayor Dave Nichols and Mathews’ fellow aldermen praised Mathewsfor his drive and progressive thinking.

“We’re going to miss you,” Nichols said.

The board appointed Steve Cliburn to fill Mathews’ seat untilvoters determine a permanent alderman. Cliburn ran against Mathewsduring the last election but told the board Tuesday he has nointentions of seeking the office later this year.

Mathews’ resignation comes as the city prepares for municipalelections later this year. Candidates now are in the process ofsecuring enough signatures to quality to run for office.Candidates, who run as independents, are required to get 50signatures to qualify.

The town expects significant change in leadership this year.

Aldermen Dick Reeves and George Magee have said they do notexpect to seek re-election.

Reeves works full-time as major in the Mississippi Army NationalGuard and said the war in Iraq and possible career opportunitieslikely will prevent him from seeking a third term.

“I most likely will not run because of my National Guardresponsibilities and the uncertainty there,” Reeves said.

Magee, also in his second term, is retired and said he is readyto relax and travel.

“I’ll run if no one else does,” he said. “It just ties me downtoo much.”

Alderman Jerry Goode would not comment on whether he would seeka third term.

“That’s a secret,” he said. “I’d rather not say at thispoint.”

Nichols and Alderman Steve Moreman each will seek a third term,they said.

“I’m working on it now,” Moreman said of the qualifying process.”I started today.”

Nichols said his papers are complete and he will turn them in bythe end of the week.

“I think the citizens are looking for positive leadership tocontinue to lead the town forward,” he said. “I’ve had a number ofcitizens ask me to run again and finish the job we’ve begun.”

The potential for a board overhaul is reminiscent of eight yearsago, when former Mayor Jerry McLean and Alderman James Hill werethe only incumbents to seek re-election. Both were defeated,ushering in a new town board in 1997.

“No one has qualified for mayor,” said Ruth Spicer, director ofadministration for the town. “There has been some interest shown inthe mayor’s race, but no papers have been turned in.”

Spicer said only one person has turned in his qualifying papersfor any office to date. Kevin Garrett has qualified for the Ward 4alderman post.

However, no qualifiers can be certified until the town appointsa third election commissioner, the mayor said.

“We still have to appoint a third one,” Nichols said. “I haveyet to talk to them.”

In the past year, the town has had to appoint all newcommissioners. Ben Blakeney died in office several months ago, andJoanne Jolly resigned about a month ago.

Hill, the former alderman, is chairman of the electioncommissioner committee, and Marsha Penny was appointed to fulfillBlakeney’s term. The town still is trying to replace Jolly.