Granite Shoals mayor resigns citing divisiveness over recall petition

Granite Shoals Mayor Carl Brugger resigns

Granite Shoals Mayor Carl Brugger resigned from the position Oct. 13, citing the recent recall petition and his desire not to be a ‘lighting rod’ for anger and divisiveness. Courtesy photo

Granite Shoals Mayor Carl Brugger resigned from that position Oct. 13, hoping his decision soothes hard feelings in the community.

He cited a recent recall petition by Citizens’ Rights Group of Granite Shoals that targeted himself and Councilor Bruce Jones. The recall effort stemmed from a City Council vote in August that gave City Manager Jeff Looney a $37,000 raise. A week later, two councilors tried to rescind the raise, but the move failed as they were the only ones who supported it.

Within a few days, residents upset with the city manager’s pay raise began the recall petition, which City Secretary Elaine Smith certified on Oct. 9.

“The charge listed on the petition is incompetence, misconduct or malfeasance: voting for a 29.6 percent ($37,000) raise for the city manager during a pandemic and a recession,” Brugger wrote in his resignation letter. “As the charge reads, if a pandemic and or a recession didn’t exist, a petition would not have been conducted. The act of stepping down removes me (your mayor) as the lightning rod for anger, hostility and hate. I am hoping and praying that citizens will move forward and put anger and hate in the rearview mirror.”

Brugger’s term would have ended in May 2021, the time of the recall election. Due to term limits, Brugger wouldn’t be able to run for re-election. He was first elected as mayor in May 2015 and re-elected twice since then. Prior to being mayor, Brugger served as the Place 5 City Council member starting in October 2010.

His resignation ends almost 10 years of service to the city. Mayor Pro Tem Will Skinner was sworn in as the Granite Shoals mayor.

Looney said he knew Brugger’s resignation was coming before he made it official at the Oct. 13 regular council meeting.

“I asked him not to do it,” Looney said. “I thought we’d go through the process (of the recall election). I understand he didn’t want his family treated that way. There were such awful things said to him.”

In his resignation letter, Brugger noted the “disgusting actions of some of the petitioners, who used the ‘N’ word on a current council member in front of his own children, the ‘F’ word in a conversation with me and belittling my judgment because I’m term limited. Unfortunately, the city of Granite Shoals is not exempt from the issues that our nation is facing. This recall petition has built a following on anger and hatred. Calling me incompetent is yet an example of the petitioners’ irrational anger. No city should have a foundation of hostility.”

Brugger noted that he was not going to be able to run for re-election in May because he is termed out. Still, because of the petition, his name would appear on the ballot under the recall election unless he resigned.

“The May 2021 ballot would contain the names of those seeking office of the mayor along with a vote on a recall petition, which if passed, would remove me from office a week early,” he wrote. “I have no intention of dragging my name through the mud or disrupting the city’s activities by submitting it to a recall vote in May 2021.”

The council addressed the petition during its executive session Oct. 13. 

“The petition is valid; it’s been served,” Looney said. “It’s valid, and it will go before the people.”

Brugger wrote that when he became a council member, “the city’s financial position in 2010 was in shambles. Bank balances had not been reconciled, fund balances were inadequate and weren’t being tracked, and the city’s Standard & Poor’s bond rating was a notch above junk.”

He pointed out in his resignation letter that now — after a decade of work by city staff and city councils — Granite Shoals has a AA- S&P bond rating. The highest rating that S&P awards is an AAA. The stronger and higher bond rating has allowed the city to get better finance rates for longterm projects.

“The city’s finances are in excellent shape in spite of the pandemic conditions,” Brugger stated in his resignation. “Current and past councils worked hard to make this happen. I have used my training, certified public accountant expertise and corporate leadership skills to make both thoughtful analyses and informed financial decisions for the city.”

The city manager said he was sorry to see Brugger resign.

“He did a lot in the 10 years he was on the council,” Looney said. “His record speaks for itself. It’s a shame he won’t be able to finish his 10th year. He is a man of integrity. Mayor Brugger is one of the best mayors I’ve ever worked with. He’s very smart, he has a sharp, sharp mind. He’s civic minded.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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