The mayor’s seat was empty during a recent Lovejoy City Council meeting.
Bobby Cartwright, Post 4 councilman, said the city council will hold a special called meeting on Feb. 1, to choose a mayor pro temp to act in the absence of a sitting mayor, as suggested by City Attorney Lerin Barnes.
Cartwright was chosen as mayor pro tem, by former Mayor Joe Murphy when Murphy stepped down from office prior to last November’s municipal elections. Cartwright served until Dec. 31, the date that Murphy’s term would have ended.
No individual has held the title or “specific, official” responsibility of the job since then, and that is a major concern for some residents, who perceive a leadership vacuum, and voiced that concern at a recent council meeting.
Cartwright, however, said he had to return to his position as Post 4 councilman. Murphy resigned in October, in a deal with Clayton County prosecutors that ended a special grand jury investigation that involved allegations of voter fraud against Murphy and members of his family.
Cartwright, however, stressed that Lovejoy’s citizens should not worry about the absence of a mayor or mayor pro tem. He said city operations will continue as usual.
“You still have four, very qualified [leaders], and we are talking about seasoned council people ... doing business as usual,” he said. He emphasized that the mayor and council have always made decisions as a team. While councilmembers represent specific posts, they also serve on an “at-large” basis, he added.
“You don’t live in one, or the other, you live abroad in Lovejoy,” said Cartwright. “We run by post, but we serve abroad.”
City Attorney Barnes would not comment on the matter, and referred a reporter to the Lovejoy City Council.
Cartwright said the councilperson who received the most votes in the 2011 municipal election should become the new mayor pro tem. Since Post 1 Councilwoman Marci Fluellyn and Post 3 Councilwoman Rebekah Holland Wright tied for the highest number of votes in the election: “One of them will become mayor pro tem,” said Cartwright.
He said the council will also call a special election to fill the mayor’s seat, set qualifying for it, and officially provide the election date of March 6, which coincides with the presidential primaries in Georgia.