3 Resign From Wetumka City Council Amid Investigation, Budget Crisis
A Wetumka City Council meeting that began with a city councilor confronting the mayor for allegedly stalking her ended with the mayor and two other council members resigning amid a budget crisis.
According to the interim city manager, former town leaders are under investigation by the FBI. The state auditor told News 9 an audit of the town’s finances is pending.
Before the meeting even began in the town of 1,200, Councilwoman Norma Marshal confronted former Mayor James Jackson about allegedly stalking her. Wetumka police records show four people, including a city police officer, filed witness statements alleging Jackson, or a vehicle similar to his, followed Marshal home Wednesday night.
According to the former city treasurer, Wetumka failed to send out several utility bills over the course of several years, putting the city in a financial bind. On top of that, the city is faced with upgrading its lagoon sewage disposal system or face $100,000 in environmental fines.
The former mayor said that’s the reason he proposed eliminating the town’s police department at Friday’s meeting.
“You can’t have your cake and eat it, too,” Jackson said. “Sorry to say that, I don’t know what to tell you. That’s why they hate us, because we delivered the bad news.”
Jackson sent a text message to the interim city manager, Joanna Hulstine on January 15 saying in part, “you can use this text message as official, in writing confirmation that as of now (…) I am immediately resigning as mayor of (council) and chairman of the public works.”
News 9 has obtained a copy of the text message, however, the former mayor who presided over Friday’s meeting said it wasn’t official. Jackson told NonDoc, who first reported the mayor may be facing an FBI investigation, he officially resigned more than two weeks ago.
Friday, the five-person council entered into executive session over the objections of the city attorney and emerged with what appeared to be a compromise. Former Mayor James Jackson along with his wife, Rebecca Jackson who is also a councilwoman, would only resign if councilman Randy Hinkley did too.
“I’m just so happy that he didn’t get rid of my guys in blue and my fire department,” Hulstine said. “That was the crew that I was fighting for. I didn’t care what happened to me.”
James Jackson, Rebecca Jackson and Hinkley all signed paperwork resigning their positions at noon on Friday.