The ongoing political soap opera that is Stockbridge government ramped up this week when the mayor abruptly resigned during a city council meeting.
Mayor Tim Thompson’s departure Monday stunned city officials who were considering charging him with creating a hostile work environment. The resignation occured just after council emerged from executive session. It also comes a couple of weeks after the release of a city-sanctioned, 128-day report by an independent investigator into Thompson’s behavior. The report cost $41,000.
Mayor pro tem Alphonso Thomas is serving as acting mayor.
“It surprised all of us,” City Manager Michael Harris said of Thompson’s resignation. “He didn’t cite any specific reason other than to say he had had enough.”
When asked if the report dealt with Thompson’s behavior, Harris replied “not that I recall.” Harris declined to give details of the report.
In an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Thompson said he “resigned voluntarily.” He declined to go into detail.
“I got my life back now,” said Thompson who had been in office just under two years. “I did my best. I served with honor and dignity. I’m proud of what I was able to do and proud of what I stood for.”
Thompson dismissed reports that he resigned because of his temper, which earned him a censure from the city council in March. Thompson was censured after a string of alleged abusive and threatening behavior that culminated with him threatening to beat up the mayor pro tem. The council also launched the investigation at that time and required him to get anger management counseling.
Thompson's departure is just the latest in what has become over the past six years a revolving-door of politicians and government administrators in Stockbridge, a Henry County town of just over 27,000. The volatility began in 2009 shortly after retired Army office and political newcomer Lee Stuart ended R.D. "Rudy" Kelly's nearly four-decade reign as mayor. The city council ousted Stuart three years ago this month, saying he was creating a hostile work environment for city workers among other things.
The fireworks have continued ever since.
During the last two months of Mark Alarcon’s mayoral term, he transferred eight city-owned properties to the downtown development authority and forgave $6 million in loans to the authority. Thompason spent the early days of his term trying to retrieve the money and properties. In October 2014, Councilman Richard Steinberg resigned from office, 15 minutes before a public evidentiary hearing concerning whether he should be removed from office.
In addition to the upheaval in elected officials,Stockbridge has had six city clerks, five finance directors and five city managers since 2010.
While city officials insist that Thompson’s volatile behavior has made it hard, Thompson called the Stockbridge government “a volatile environment.”
“I went in on my own terms and left on my own terms,” Thompson, who works in the insurance field, said Wednesday. “I’m happy. My wife’s happy. I’m finished with that. I’ve turned a new page in my life. I hope and pray they (city officials) can move forward.”
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