Stockbridge mayor says City Council colleague should resign

Stockbridge Mayor Pro Tem Elton Alexander.
Stockbridge Mayor Pro Tem Elton Alexander.

A week after Stockbridge settled a $1.7 million harassment lawsuit filed against the city, its mayor is calling on the councilmember at the center of the litigation to resign.

In a letter released Wednesday night, Mayor Anthony Ford said councilmember Elton Alexander has elicited a “continuous pattern of disciplinary actions” in his five years on the government body and should step down “for the betterment, the bright future and growth of the city of Stockbridge.”

Among the charges Ford levels against Alexander, who is the city’s mayor pro tem, are a letter of caution the council issued over concerns about his behavior, two censures the group placed on him and an investigation into his actions during his tenure.

The request comes as Councilmembers LaKeisha Gantt and John Blount also plan to call for his resignation during a press conference Friday at Stockbridge City Hall. And it reveals years of tension between Alexander and his colleagues, who have often taken veiled shots at one another during Council meetings and filed ethics complaints against one another.

“Recent actions due to the legal outcome of the BBQ Masters litigation and the $1.725 million awarded to the plaintiff, Arick Whitson, has brought shame to the city of Stockbridge and to the elected body of the Stockbridge municipal government,” Ford said in his letter.

Alexander, in an email, said he would not resign and that he was disappointed in Ford. He said he and Blount have long had an adversarial relationship.

“I will not resign but move forward serving the citizens of Stockbridge, who re-elected me after having knowledge of these allegations and litigation,” said Alexander, who had denied the allegations made against him in the lawsuit and in the efforts to censure him.

“The people elected me and they will have a chance to judge whether I should continue if I seek re-election,” he said.

Alexander won a second term on the Council in 2019, narrowly beating fellow Councilmember Neat Robinson for one of three at-large positions. He won by four votes.

Stockbridge Councilmembers serve four-year terms.

Whitson, owner of Georgia Championship Barbeque Co., accused Alexander in a 2017 lawsuit of a yearlong retaliation campaign against the restaurateur and his eatery after the proprietor declined to comp Alexander’s $60 meal.

Whitson said code enforcement officials showed up at the eatery and began harassing him, and that he had trouble securing a liquor license for the restaurant, signage for the eatery and other building permits.

Stockbridge settled the lawsuit without admitting wrongdoing.

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