Lowndes County Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders has resigned his position as head of the board.
Sanders resigned immediately after he and District 3 Supervisor John Holliman voted against a motion to borrow $2 million for road repairs at Monday”s meeting. The motion passed 3-2.
“Over the last couple meetings it”s become obvious to me I don”t have the support of the majority of the board,” said Sanders following the vote. “I don”t feel that situation is likely to change anytime soon. Because of that, I don”t think I”m the right person to chair these meetings and lead the county, so I”m going to resign as president of the board effective right now and we”ll deal with that at the next meeting.”
Sanders declined to elaborate on his decision. The next board meeting will take place March 15.
District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks spoke up quickly after Sanders concluded his statement to second the motion.
“It”s not a motion. You don”t have to,” replied Sanders.
Brooks then made a motion to accept Sanders” resignation, which was seconded by Sanders.
The meeting closed with a brief exchange over who will lead the board until the board can vote in a new president.
“Mr. Chairman, I think in view of your actions, although it”s not on the minutes, I”d like to make a motion the vice president assume all duties in between the next meeting,” said Brooks.
“That doesn”t have to be a motion. It”s automatic. But I”ll second the motion,” said Sanders.
District 2 Supervisor Frank Ferguson is the board”s vice president.
Ferguson expressed his surprise at Sanders” announcement, but says he”ll fulfill his duties.
“I have no ambition to be president of the board, but if it falls that way, it falls that way,” he said.
Ferguson, who voted to borrow the $2 million with Brooks and District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith, said he doesn”t case votes based on politics.
“I didn”t provoke this. Or I didn”t mean to if I did,” he said. “I didn”t do and vote the way Harry wanted me to on several issues. That seemed to be a problem. I voted my convictions on what”s best for the county.”
Holliman, who often voted with Sanders, was also puzzled by the sitting president”s decision.
“I”m just very shocked. As far as I know there was no discussion with any of the supervisors,” he said. “I think he was an excellent president. He was all involved in economic development. I think he was a real asset on that part.”
Brooks says it was time for Sanders to step down as president.
“He”s served long enough. I think it”s time for someone else to serve,” he said.
Brooks endorses switching board policy from a four-year president to rotating on a yearly basis. He says this will offer other supervisors the chance to gain leadership experience, although the president”s power is limited.
“One of the misconceptions is that the president is the boss. All he does is chair the different functions. The citizens of this county elect us to take care of county business. It does not deem any one of person the boss,” Brooks said.
He says the next president should make a strong effort to unite the board by remaining open and receptive to cooperation. Brooks doesn”t know who the next president will be, but he has a good idea who it won”t be.
“As a general rule they never want Leroy Brooks to serve (as president),” he said. “After 26 years, I”ve never served.”
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.