Former Mayor Gives Perspective on Resigning - TribPapers

Former Mayor Gives Perspective on Resigning

Al Root.

Weaverville – The September 2, 2021 edition of the Tribune ran a commentary suggesting that I masterminded the underhanded appointment as Weaverville Mayor of the only candidate for that office in the upcoming election. The commentary says I played some role in the horrifying appointment to Town Council of a hard-working member of the Town Planning Board. It also suggests that I am a liar. Being an attorney, perhaps I should consider this commentary a recommendation of my professional skills. However, I must decline the commentator’s nod.

The events in question were precipitated by my resigning as Mayor with three months left in my term. The commentator believes that I must have some hidden evil motive. The reason I have stated publicly to one and all, and that the commentator dismisses is that after 24 years in and out of serving the town, I think it makes perfect sense to let the incoming Mayor take over three months early when (1) we know who the incoming Mayor is going to be (Patrick Fitzsimmons, who is unopposed in the November election) and (2) the Town’s attention turns from finishing up the business of my years as Mayor to beginning the projects that will take place during Patrick Fitzsimmons’ years as Mayor. Maybe I should want to cling to office even though others are in a better place to handle it, but no thank you.

The commentator also states that he was disappointed to conclude that my unstated motivation was political trickery rather than some illness that I was hiding from the public. It is generally not a good sign that your friends are disappointed to conclude that you are in good health. In any event, I was quite open in stating that I was stepping down so that the new Mayor, Patrick Fitzsimmons, could step up. If the commentator believes that everyone must have ulterior motives for whatever they do, perhaps this says something about the commentator’s motives.

The commentator appears to be under the mistaken assumption that the Vice-Mayor was entitled to become Mayor, and that I therefore must have had some role in keeping this from happening. However, this is not how town government works in North Carolina. Under North Carolina law (NCGS 160A-163) my resignation created a vacancy to be filled by a vote of  Town Council. The Vice-Mayor was not entitled to become the Mayor. I was confident that the person elected would be Patrick Fitzsimmons because it simply made sense to begin his term.

The commentator also posits that I have somehow “uprooted my legacy” due to the election of John Chase to the open council seat caused by Patrick Fitzsimmons’ elevation from Council to Mayor. Anytime anyone starts talking about a politician’s “legacy,” it’s a pretty good idea to grab your wallet before someone comes after it. I have done the best I could in my public roles, but the success or failure of the town in the last twenty-four years is a result of the work of its citizens, merchants, and employees. That success is not a “legacy” of mine or of other Mayors or members of Council.

Any role I played in the appointment of John Chase is one for which I am proud. John has worked hard to meet his duties on the Planning and Zoning Board and has shown the willingness to stick to his guns and state his mind when others disagree with him. This is invaluable in the workings of what will be a seven-person council. I had no idea at the time I announced my resignation that it would end up with John Chase’s coming on Town Council, and my entire “role” thereafter was to meet with John once to stress the positive contributions he could make and answer any questions he had. If this activity helped in any way to contribute toward the result of John joining Council, then that was time I spent well.

Commentator’s note: I am sorry that my least favorite option of why Root stepped down in my September 2nd commentary was construed by Root to mean I would wish ill of him or anyone. That was certainly not my intention. Anyone, including former Mayor Root, who took that to mean I wished him ill, I offer my heartfelt apologies.

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