Brookhaven’s mayor plans to call a special election in November to replace a city councilman who abruptly resigned April 22 following his public criticism of the city manager’s employment contract.
Mayor J. Max Davis said state law requires the city wait until November to hold the special election to replace former District 2 Councilman Jim Eyre, who had held the seat since the city started operation.
That means residents of the district, which includes the Ashford Park community, will not have a representative on the council for about five months. “I will be representing them and the rest of the council, too,” Davis said. “We’ll all be doing what we can to make sure they have representation.”
Eyre surprised his fellow council members when he resigned. Eyre read from a hand-written statement that said, in part, “I have said to those closest to me that I will continue to serve my constituents as a District 2 councilmember until I felt I could no longer effectively represent the residents of District 2. I believe that time has come.”
The next day Eyre said he made the decision to resign the same day he did so. “There comes a time when you have to be true to yourself,” he said. “Last night was it. I decided I was no longer effectively representing District 2.”
Davis said Eyre’s resignation followed closed-door discussions about statements the councilman made in a broadcast news report about City Manager Marie Garrett’s employment contract.
Davis said Garrett’s contract has changed as her role at the city has changed. Her 2013 contract as city manager, he said, employed her for 10 hours a day, four days a week, and said she would be paid at an hourly rate for additional work. Typically, she worked Monday through Thursday, Davis said.
Eyre was critical of the arrangement in a television report broadcast the weekend before his resignation. But Davis said Eyre was aware of the terms of the contract.
Garrett’s new contract calls for her to work five days a week for the city, with no consulting work for Brookhaven, the mayor said. It sets her salary at $214,000, he said. The council is scheduled to vote on it at its next meeting, set for May 13, Davis said.
Several council members said they were caught off guard by Eyre’s resignation.
“I feel empathy in that I think there was confusion about the issue,” Councilman Bates Mattison said. “I think the news story was an indication of a dysfunctional relationship between the council member and the city staff.”
Eyre at times seemed an odd fit on the council. He had campaigned publicly against the creation of the city of Brookhaven before the close election that brought the city into existence.
Eyre took 55 percent of the vote to win a three-way election for a seat on the first Brookhaven City Council, but held the seat for only a year before it and another districts were up for re-election in an arrangement meant to stagger council terms. Eyre won re-election in 2013 without opposition. At the time, he said participation in the council “has been wonderful. It’s been exciting to be a part of this and grow it, and try to get some of the things done.”
Davis said he wished Eyre had not decided to quit the council.
“He wasn’t run off,” Davis said. “Nobody thought he would resign.”