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Thompson getting ready
to take office

 

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent 

  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 discussion.

  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 city clerk.

  “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 there.

  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.

 

 

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