Barfield announces Morrow Council resignation date

Morrow Mayor Pro Tempore Mason Barfield, in a move that was not completely unexpected, formally announced what will be his last day on the city’s governing body on Tuesday.

Barfield took a moment at the end of this week’s city council meeting to inform his colleagues on the council, and nearly two dozen Morrow residents and employees, that he plans to resign from his elected office on Oct. 26, the day after the council’s next meeting.

The councilman, who is also the athletic director at Clayton State University, already announced earlier, this year, his plans to retire and move to Hahira.

He submitted his formal letter of resignation from the council, to Morrow Mayor Jim Millirons, on Tuesday as well. Barfield had previously announced that Oct. 21, would be his final day as the head of Clayton State’s athletic programs.

“It has been a great honor for me to serve as a council member for almost five years,” said Barfield, who has served on the council since early 2007, as he read his letter aloud to the council. “I commend your leadership, and have learned a great deal from my peers on the council. Therefore, I am herewith submitting my resignation.”

Morrow City Manager Jeff Eady said city council members will likely waste no time in appointing a replacement for Barfield, who will be leaving two months before his current term expires. Eady said the council is expected to appoint Morrow resident, Larry W. Ferguson, 52, during a council meeting on Nov. 8 — which is also election day in the city — to serve the remainder of Barfield’s term.

Ferguson is a senior construction analyst for the federal government, who is running unopposed this year to fill Barfield’s council seat.

In his letter to Millirons, Barfield extended his praise beyond the city council, adding commendations to Morrow’s employees for their work, and said the city will retain a place in his heart.

“The experience, memories and friendships that have been made during my time on the city council will remain with me forever, and I wish to say, ‘Thank You,’ for all the wonderful and humbling opportunities that I have been involved with, and participated in,” Barfield wrote in the letter. “The city has a dedicated mayor and council, and it is supported by some of the most committed and professional staff anywhere.”

Barfield said, after the council meeting, that he is moving to Hahira, which is where he grew up, to be close to his elderly mother and two of his grandchildren. He said he has worked in school athletics for 32 years, at the high school and college levels. He added that he will be working, on a part-time basis, for Valdosta State University’s athletic department, helping that school out where he can.

Barfield was not the first politician in his family, according to Morrow City Councilman Virlyn Slaton. His father, Hurram Mason Barfield, Jr. (the councilman is actually Hurram Mason Barfield, III), was a state representative in the Georgia General Assembly, from Hahira, in the late 1960’s, and early 1970’s.

“He’s [Councilman Barfield] a great individual, and he’s following in the footsteps of his father,” Slaton said.

Barfield said he worked as a page in the general assembly for a time, while his father was a state representative. He recounted how there was a board with lights next to each representative’s name, that would light up whenever a representative wanted the page to do something.

On one occasion, he said, he had to escort former State Sen. Julian Bond to the steps of the State Capitol building, to face a group of protesting teachers. “That was the most terrifying experience of my life,” Barfield said.

Millirons was not present at Tuesday’s meeting, to receive Barfield’s resignation letter, but the councilman’s colleagues praised him for his calm demeanor and approach to handling issues within the city.

“It will be a sad day for the city, because he has truly been an asset for us,” said Councilwoman Jeanell Bridges. “What I have learned from him is just his patience, and watching the way he processed things, and then always came up with a strong opinion on an issue. I’ve always admired that about him.”

Councilman Bob Huie added: “It’s going to be a big loss, not just for the city, but for the university as well .... He’s been a level head for us, and we’re going to miss him.”

Eady echoed Bridges’ and Huie’s sentiments, calling Barfield a “voice of reason” for the city. “He’s been very calming and resilient, and very down to earth in everything he does.”