Thompson wants big turnover on council

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

Citizens and candidates alike are calling for changes on the Stockbridge City Council.

So is the mayor.

In a strongly-worded letter released early last week, Mayor Tim Thompson called for the replacement of council members Alphonso Thomas and Regina Lewis Ward, both of whom are running for re-election this fall. He also criticized the actions of the council as a whole.

Taking his position a step farther, Thompson endorsed candidates Jack Cowart, Neat Robinson and John Blount as his choices for the three seats up for grabs in the at-large election. Incumbent Robin Buschman is not running for a second term.

A total of eight candidates are on the ballot: Thomas, Ward, Cowart, Robinson, Blount, Elton Alexander, Tony Brown, and Bruce Smith. The top three vote-getters will take office in January.

“Due to the actions of a few members of council our form of government has been at odds,” Thompson wrote in the letter posted Oct. 13 to his Facebook page. “Like the previous administration where last-minute deals were made in a back room leaving the city at financial risk, several council members are contriving to replace our current form of government with one that best suits their individual interest and not that of the city as a whole.”

Last month Thompson criticized council members who wished to discuss proposed changes to the city charter in a regular meeting without prior citizen input. He also vetoed a budget amendment for legal services while criticizing the city attorney’s current arrangement with the city for those services.

“It grieves me to have to call out those who wish to harm our city. But, as I said when I was elected and I will say it again, I will strive to do what is honest, forthright, and good for all citizens of Stockbridge,” Thompson wrote.

“The city of Stockbridge cannot prosper with dysfunctional behavior from me or any member of the City Council. The problems are deep and there seems to be those who wish to keep the turmoil going. To take it personally upon themselves to change our form of government with no one’s input but their own is greedy and misdirected. Not asking you, the citizens, for input is downright immoral.”

In petitioning the citizens for a sweeping change on the council, Thompson asked voters to “strongly consider supporting the candidacies of Jack Cowart, Neat Robinson and John Blount. I have personally met with each of them and they all possess the humble spirit of public service and have moral courage to do what is right. If they are elected, together we will move Stock-bridge in the right direction with bold leadership, good decision making and strong resolve to see the city flourish.”

None of the current candidates, all of whom were contacted by the Times, responded to a request for comment regarding Thomp-son’s statement. But two current council members did.

Robin Buschman, whose seat is up this fall, said she chose not to run again because she has been “lied to, screamed at, threatened, cussed at … investigated … and sued personally” during her time in office.

“I have witnessed the mayor circumventing my legislative duty of voting as a council member to suit his own agenda the day of a council meeting,” she stated. I watched the mayor lead the charge and initiate the lawsuit against the Downtown Develop-ment Authority to which hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent. The mayor even went as far as to call the former DDA board members telling them if they would resign, the city would drop the lawsuit. No one stepped down.”

Buschman added that marathon council meetings have “become the norm, not the exception, only to accommodate the mayor’s diatribes … and the business of the City never gets accomplished. The latest letter has NO merit, He is NOT a victim. It simply exemplifies where the true problem lies within Stockbridge.”

LaKeisha Gantt said Thompson’s allegations are “not true at all. I have tried from day one to work with Mayor Thompson, and have watched him singlehandedly try to divide and conquer just as he is doing right now. His statement and his ongoing behavior are unprofessional. If Mayor Thompson doesn’t get his way, he throws a fit, a temper tantrum (literally) … as a leader you must put aside your differences and work towards the good of the citizens. I say, put your feelings aside and let’s get to work on doing great things for Stockbridge.”