By Monroe Roark
There are a lot of changes
coming to Stockbridge City Hall in six weeks.
Mayor-elect Tim Thompson,
along with incoming City Council members Anthony Ford and Lakeisha
Gantt, will be sworn in Jan. 2 at City Hall during a public
ceremony, and the first official meeting of the new mayor and
council will be Jan. 6.
Thompson said the standard
meeting schedule will probably not change for the rest of 2014.
Regular council meetings typically take place the second Monday of
each month, with a work session the previous Tuesday.
The first agenda items at the
inaugural meeting will probably be the appointments of the city
clerk and city attorney. Both of those will be approved by the
council members, although Thompson plans to have some input in the
The only appointments made by
the mayor, under the city charter, are city manager and public works
director, and both of those have to be confirmed by a vote of the
council. The mayor does not vote on any business in a council
meeting except to break a tie, and with a five-member council that
could only happen if someone is absent.
City manager David Milliron’s
contract automatically renews Dec. 31, Thompson said. Milliron’s
status will be addressed early in 2014, but Thompson said he has not
talked to other council members about it specifically and does not
have an opinion on it either way right now.
“A lot of people have
emotional feelings about different people in Stockbridge government,
both pro and con,” Thompson said, referring to various city staff
positions. “It seems like, with this last administration, it was
very energized in that a lot of ‘lightning rods’ were placed in
various positions. It caused a lot of issues. I think we’re going to
look at all of those positions and try to make the right decisions.”
He went on to stress that he
is not looking to automatically make any changes, saying that he did
not want to “throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
He acknowledged that he had
heard a rumor about Vanessa Holliday, who finished second in the
mayoral race, being considered by the council for her former post of
“I like Vanessa, and we have
had a great working relationship on the campaign trail. She was one
of the first to congratulate me,” said Thompson. “But my concern is
that she ran for mayor, not city clerk, and she was city clerk
previously. It could be a ‘lightning rod’ type of situation that
causes a lot of controversy.”
Another “lightning rod”
position is that of economic development director, which has been
held by Elizabeth ‘B.J.’ Mathis since early this year, shortly after
she lost her bid for re-election as county commission chairman to
Tommy Smith. Thompson said he heard often during the campaign from
residents who were concerned about how quickly she got that job
after leaving office, but he has heard no complaints about her
qualifications or job performance.
Thompson said Smith called
him the day after the election to congratulate him and start working
to “re-engage” with the city.
“He said that he had a good
working relationship with two other cities and wanted to build one
with Stockbridge, so he extended the olive branch and said, ‘I want
to work with you so you can have a better relationship with Henry
County,’” according to Thompson.
The Times has heard from
three independent sources that, during the past nine months, Smith
said he would not work with the city as long as Mathis was employed
Thompson emphasized that no
one in the city or at the county level has suggested he make any
particular move regarding a personnel or policy matter at City Hall,
and he will make his own decisions regardless of what anyone asks
him to do.
“Those positions are up to
the city manager, so I don’t have control over that,” he said. “I’m
sure I will have some opinions that I will share with the city
manager, but it’s not my decision to make because it is not an
appointed position. When we go in, we are going to look at all of
these positions, just to make sure we have the right people in right
seats on the bus.”
Since Alarcon said publicly
that he would no longer pursue the idea of a Stockbridge police
department, Thompson expects that he and the new council will take a
look at the issue, but do it slowly.
“At some point we will look
at the plans for the police department – peel back the onion, so to
speak – and then let the community know about it,” he said, noting
that a general lack of public information is the main complaint he
has heard on the issue.
“There has been a lot of misinformation on both
sides. We just want to make sure the community knows the details,
both pro and con, and try to get a feel for what the people want to
do. If there is overwhelming support for it, and the people know
what it entails, I’m all for it.