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KERSHAW – Kershaw Mayor Tommy Baker and two council members resigned from Town Council on Monday, but they gave no reason for their decision.
Town’s Attorney Robert “Bob” Davis followed their lead, resigning after Town Council met for its regular April meeting Monday.
The meeting went on as scheduled, despite the absence of Baker, his mother, Councilwoman Rose Marie Baker, and Councilman Lewis “Jabo” Sims, who also resigned their seats.
The Bakers and Sims resigned before the meeting and did not attend it.
The Bakers and Sims gave a uniform answer – no comment – Monday night when reached by phone for comment on their resignations.
Tommy Baker said on Tuesday morning that he enjoyed serving as mayor of Kershaw.
“You don’t have to serve in a leadership position to help people,” he said.
But he declined to comment further.
Davis said Tommy Baker brought him one-sentence letters from him, his mother and Sims announcing their resignations. Davis received the letters about 4:30 p.m.
Officials speak out
Town Council met as scheduled at 6 p.m., with Councilmen Wade Hunter and Eddie Coates, and new Councilmen Morris Russell and Randy Seegars present. Russell and Seegars were elected to council last month and sworn into office at the meeting.
One of the first items of business for the four-member council was to elect Hunter as mayor pro tem, so he could lead the meeting.
Officials at the meeting did offer their thoughts on the resignations.
“I was somewhat surprised that all three of them resigned,” Davis said.
When asked whether he thought it was due to a power struggle or control issue with Russell and Seegars being sworn in Monday night, Davis said, “You’ll have to ask them.”
But Town Administrator Tony Starnes said he thinks control issues had a lot to do with the resignations.
“What else could it be?” he said.
“They’ve had their way,” Starnes said. “I knew they weren’t going to be happy (with the election results). I‘m shocked they didn‘t even show up tonight.”
Starnes said Russell called him last week with several items he wanted to put on Monday night’s meeting agenda. Any council member is free to do that.
Residents may be included on the agenda if they submit their requests by noon on the Wednesday before the meeting.
Starnes said Tommy Baker called him Friday and was upset that Russell had called with agenda items to add. Starnes said Tommy Baker hung up on him.
Hunter said he’s disappointed with the council members’ resignations.
“I thought they were more dedicated to what they were supposed to be doing,” Hunter said.
Russell said he didn’t take it personally that the Bakers and Sims resigned, but he said he was shocked by their decision.
“That’s their choice and they can decide what they want to do,” Russell said. “I came here to serve District 4 and all the citizens of Kershaw. Now we need to find three folks who want to join us up here and get some work done. I think we’ll be OK.”
A special election will have to be held for the mayor and council seats.
Tommy Baker had served as mayor for four years. Rose Marie Baker had served eight years on council, and Sims for four years.
Attorney: Time to step down
While the Bakers and Sims were tight-lipped about their resignations, Davis did comment about his decision when reached by phone Tuesday.
“I had been thinking about it for a long time,” he said.
Davis has his own private practice, and also serves as a judge for the city of Lancaster.
He said with the new council coming in, it was the best time to resign.
“I think it’s only fair to give the council as much notice as possible,” Davis said. “I told them I wasn’t in a hurry. I’ll come back for the next few meetings if that’s what they want me to do.”
Davis said he’s enjoyed serving as the town’s attorney.
Davis has lived in Kershaw for 30 years and raised a family there.
“Kershaw is a great little town,” he said. “There are a lot of opportunities in Kershaw, and we’ve got a lot to offer families. Kershaw is a great place.”
Contact senior reporter at Jenny Arnold at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (803) 283-1151