Ed Rieker is Avondale’s once and current mayorFormer mayor Ed Rieker explains the city's annexation plans during an Oct. 1, 2014 work session. He announced his resignation on Oct. 2, 2014 Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
Ed Rieker announced his resignation as Avondale Estates mayor on Oct. 2, but technically is still the mayor, according to the city’s attorneys.
Rieker has announced he has no intention of returning after his supporters started a campaign to convince commissioners to vote against his resignation. The next regular meeting of the City Commission is Oct. 20. Commissioners will hold a work session on Oct. 15, but typically there are no votes at work sessions.
A recent announcement about the timeline for filling the vacancy notes that, “The (Board of Mayor and Commissioners) needs to vote on whether to accept Mayor Rieker’s resignation and whether to declare the position of Mayor vacant at a public meeting. The resignation is not effective and there is no vacancy in the office unless the BOMC votes accordingly.” That announcement was produced after the city consulted with its legal counsel, according to records obtained by Decaturish.com
Mayor Pro Tem Terry Giager will hold pro tem status until that vote occurs. That’s led to calls from some city residents for commissioners to vote against accepting the mayor’s resignation.
“You are probably aware of the groundswell of in support of Ed,” one email sent to commissioners says. “Like many, I am devastated to learn of his resignation, and I ask that you not accept his resignation.”
Another email to commissioners says, “We would like to ask you to vote ‘no’ on his resignation. We have faith and confidence in Mayor Rieker and our commissioners and don’t want a few in the community to make decisions for the whole that could potentially reverse the progress made by our city’s leaders.”
Rieker sent a letter to Avondale residents that addresses this issue. In short, he won’t be returning.
“Although I loved serving on the team as your Mayor, I simply do not have the resources to accomplish my professional duties and be a good Mayor moving forward,” Rieker said. “For me, being Mayor has consumed an extraordinary amount of time, energy and focused attention. I would rather disappoint you now by leaving than disappoint you later with a sub-par performance. My hope is that you will understand and support the team that is in place and doing good for our community.”
Two commissioners have said they will likely vote to accept the mayor’s resignation letter.
Commissioner Randy Beebe says he will vote yes, and Lindsay Forlines is leaning in that direction as well.
“I am currently looking into this from all angles,” she said. “The biggest question is of course: would us voting no mean anything, legally? I suspect not, as I can’t imagine a governmental system where you can ‘force’ someone to serve. In other words, it’s my feeling that whether we vote yea or nay to the resignation, Ed has the right to resign and step down. Further, I also believe it’s important to respect an individual’s personal choices.”
There’s another recent example of an elected official resigning. Bill Floyd stepped down as Decatur’s Mayor in January of last year. Decatur’s commissioners did not vote to accept Floyd’s resignation letter. Unlike Avondale, which holds an election for the office of mayor, Decatur’s mayor is selected by their fellow commissioners, as is the mayor pro tem. When Floyd resigned, he was giving up his commission seat, which was filled by a special election.
Avondale cited several code sections of state law supporting their attorney’s opinion that the mayor’s resignation must be voted on by commissioners. The key section in question is O.C.G.A § 45-5-1(a)(2), which says the office is vacated, “by resignation, when accepted.” Another part of that code section also says the office becomes vacant, “By (the official) abandoning the office or ceasing to perform its duties, or both.”
Here is Rieker’s letter to his supporters:
Thank you for your kindness and praise. It is humbling and heartwarming. I truly was taken by surprise by the outpouring of well wishers and positive comments regarding how we have together, over the last several years, changed our city for the better. I have received comments from more residents, neighboring communities and others on this topic than any other issue during the seven years of my service to the community. I am hearing from neighbors that have never spoken up before on any other issue and it is uplifting to hear their voices and kind words. I am so grateful.
To be clear, all the positive results and successes were achieved by a strong team effort and not by a single individual. The entire team (with one exception) that created these successes is still in place, active and positioned for achieving continuing positive results. Please reach out to them now and give them your support and best wishes.
I wanted to share with you, from my heart, my continued belief in our community, city commissioners, city staff and you, my neighbors. This is a wonderful, creative and unique community that we all share. Although I loved serving on the team as your Mayor, I simply do not have the resources to accomplish my professional duties and be a good Mayor moving forward. For me, being Mayor has consumed an extraordinary amount of time, energy and focused attention. I would rather disappoint you now by leaving than disappoint you later with a sub-par performance. My hope is that you will understand and support the team that is in place and doing good for our community.
Thank you so much for all you have given me.