Jonesboro councilman resigns

By Ed Brock

Jonesboro City Councilman Clifford "Rip" Sewell filed his resignation less than a week after saying he wasn't going anywhere.

Sewell turned in his resignation letter on Thursday, including on it a list of accomplishments the city achieved during his 16 years on the council.

"We started with $857,853 cash on hand when I started in January of 1989 and have seen that grow 214 percent to $2,692,586 in 2004," Sewell states in the letter.

Technically, Sewell said he is resigning because he is moving out of the city. However, he also states that he is "beginning a new chapter in my life and want to spend more time with my wife and family."

Last week Sewell said he was selling his house but had plans to live in one of two places in Jonesboro. He said at that time that he had no plans to resign.

Members of the Jonesboro Pride civic group had criticized Sewell for continuing to serve on the council while his house on Fayetteville Road was on the market. They said they believed he had already moved to his second house in Ola near McDonough.

"I think if he's moved he needs to at least quit voting on issues," said Jonesboro Pride member Jon Crane.

Sewell had said that his critics were just trying to force a special election and were angry with him for refusing to move for the termination of City Manager Jon Walker.

"I have as much right to sell my house as anybody in these United States," Sewell said previously. "I will resign right before I change my city of residence."

On Thursday Sewell did not return a phone call seeking extra comment.

The council will hold a called meeting soon to officially accept Sewell's resignation and to call for a special election, Jonesboro City Clerk Joanie Jones said.

However, that special election will coincide with the regular election scheduled for this November, Jones said.

Walker said that the seats for council members Rick Yonce, Wallace Norrington and Yvette McDonald will be open for the November election.

Some of the other accomplishments Sewell listed in his letter were the city's creation of Battleground and Massengale parks, purchasing the property on North Avenue for the current city hall and on South Main Street for the police department and completing the Livable Centers Study.

Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day was sorry to hear about the news.

"I hate to see Mr. Sewell leave and we wish him the best in his future endeavors," Day said.