Fired for failure to perform duties, ex-city employee seeks mayor job

Published 7:00 pm Friday, April 26, 2013

Among Brookhaven’s five candidates for mayor, one is a former city employee fired for failure to perform his duties.

Joe Poole, a Democratic candidate for mayor, worked with the Brookhaven Police Department as the city’s animal control officer for a little more than six years, his employment ending in April 2011.

In May 2011, Brookhaven aldermen voted 6-1 to terminate Poole, with only Ward Three Alderman Mary Wilson voting no on the motion.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Speaking Thursday about his firing, Poole didn’t offer any criticism of city leaders.

“They weren’t unjustified,” he said of city leaders.

Poole, 43, vaguely discussed the circumstances of his termination.

“I guess they felt like it was time for a change,” he said.

In a previous interview, Poole said he now restores furniture.

His firing followed an incident in late April 2011 in which animal control had been called to deal with a dead snake (with an also dead squirrel in its mouth) on East Court Street. A Daily Leader article at the time described Poole as, according to eyewitness reports, refusing to leave his vehicle once he saw the snake.

“I just couldn’t justify keeping him on,” said Police Chief Pap Henderson. “You have to deal with snakes. We get those calls all the time.”

The April 2011 incident wasn’t the first time Poole’s aversion to snakes had hampered his job performance.

“It had happened before, but I hadn’t acted on it, trying to work it out,” the chief said.

Poole is one of two municipal election candidates fired from city employment over charges of job performance problems, the other being André Spiller, former Brookhaven fire inspector.

Spiller has contested his termination, claiming city leaders didn’t follow proper disciplinary proceedings in dealing with his alleged offenses. A circuit judge has dismissed Spiller’s appeal.

Poole doesn’t think the circumstances of his departure pose an issue for his campaign; right now, he’s much more concerned about his four campaign yard signs that have been stolen.

“People are scared of what they don’t understand,” he said, speculating as to the motivation behind the sign thefts.

He’s turning an eye to the positive, though.

“I guess they wanted a good-looking picture for their wall,” he said laughing, referring to the picture of himself featured on the signs.

Poole will face fellow Democratic hopeful David Douglas Smith in the May 7 Democratic primary. The winner will go on to compete against Republican Joe Cox and independent candidates D.W. Maxwell and Rose “Polly” Powell in the June 4 general election.

Looking toward the upcoming electoral contest, Poole remains even more optimistic,

He said, with confidence, “I’m holding on for a landslide.”