Both Madisonville's top elected official and top administrator have stepped down.
City Manager Tom Ginter's resignation was accepted by the city council this past Thursday, and Sunday, Mayor Scott Singletary tendered his resignation, which was effective Monday. They are just the latest dominos to fall in what has been a turbulent time in the city's history.
Ginter's resignation came following a closed-door executive session of the city council. The vote to ask for and accept the resignation was 3-to-2. Councilmembers Marvin Stanton (who is the mayor pro tem), Terri Creel and Debra Drake voted in favor, while Pearline Johnson and Lois Brown voted against.
It was Ginter's resignation that seemed to spark Mayor Singletary's decision to step down. In a letter to the citizens of Madisonville dated Sunday, Singletary said Ginter had done a fine job as city manager, but that political posturing by some members of the city council had brought this all on.
Singletary's full letter to the citizens of Madisonville can be read at this link:
Singletary wrote, "The last six months has brought about an evolution of philosophical and ethical differences of myself and a majority of the council. I feel that some of the challenges that we have had to deal with most likely polarized the community even more than it was before these incidents.
"I feel that the Council continued to micro-manage the City Manager and they lost a global perspective of what was best for the city," he continued.
Among those incidents is the controversy surrounding allegations of racial profiling brought against the Madisonville Police Department. A group called the Concerned Citizens of Madisonville formed in October, bringing forward claims of unfair treatment against certain citizens, including minorities.
The police department vehemently denied the claims, and at one point, Chief George Sweetin said he took no stock in the claims of the CCM, saying of those he saw in the group, 75 percent had a criminal history.
Throughout the following weeks, discussions went on to possibly change certain aspects of the law in order to alleviate the suspicions. Indeed, two new initiatives were instituted, though the CCM was not fully pleased with the changes. (Read more here)
A representative of the Concerned Citizens of Madisonville, Reverend Fred Randle called Singletary and Ginter's resignations "a loss" for the city, saying they and some councilmembers showed genuine care for their concerns.
Another long time resident, former Mayor Kirby Woehst, said, "It's bad enough to lose one, but now that we have lost two at one time, it's going to be a difficult thing because you've got to follow a chain of command that you've got to follow. This is part of the rules and regulations of any city."
And to illustrate the variety of opinions, another former councilmember, businessman Dave Ward, called Singletary's resignation "childish" since he was unwilling to stay in the job after Ginter's departure. He added Ginter proved incapable of handling Madisonville's business, and did not sufficiently meet the needs of the city and the council.
Ginter was the subject of some lengthy job reviews by the council during his tenure, which began in 2004. Recently, he was also no-billed by a grand jury on charges of abuse of official capacity after claims that he used city work crews to do labor for a friend. (Read more here)
The city also saw economic growth in that time, including a major car dealership's arrival in town. (Read more here) Ginter also supported the creation of zoning in Madisonville, which was recently enacted. (Read more here)
As stated on the City of Madisonville's website, Ginter brought nearly two decades of experience in city government to Madisonville, all of which came in Oklahoma.
Calls to current councilmembers were not returned. They will meet Thursday to determine the next steps in selecting a mayor.