ATLANTIC BEACH — Leaders in Atlantic Beach moved forward Friday with the forfeiture of the council seat that Josephine Isom won in May.
Town Council voted 3-1 in a hearing Friday night to order Isom give up her seat citing her failure to participate and accept the duties of a council member, and her failure to communication why she has not taken the oath of office yet.
Isom was not at the hearing, and was not represented. She will have an opportunity to appeal the council’s decision.
Mayor-elect Jake Evans was the lone dissenter at the hearing, and council woman Charlene Taylor did not attend.
Sam Howell, a third-party lawyer called in for the proceeding, presented the cause for forfeiture on behalf of the town detailing why the law says Isom should forfeit her seat.
“She has had the opportunity to do her duties or at least let you know why she has not done that,” he argued in a closing statement. “I submit to you that the state constitution requires her removal from office under these circumstances … for failure to perform her duties as a duly elected council member.”
Evans said the hearing was merely part of a game to get him out of office.
His term as councilman has expired and he won the May 22 mayoral election, but has not taken his seat because the outcome of that election is being challenged by candidates Windy Price and Retha Pierce who have filed appeals and subsequent lawsuits related to the election. If Isom were sworn in, she would force Evans off the council until he took the mayor’s seat pending the court’s decisions.
Mayor pro tem Carolyn Cole insists it’s not a game, and the action is not fueled by any personal vendetta against Isom.
“I don’t dislike Josephine, I don’t have any reason to dislike Josephine,” she said.
But, she said the town needs to move forward and do business and having someone in that seat is necessary.
“We don’t get to pick and choose when to sit down so that we can sit with people we like or sit with people as a majority,” she said. “We still come in and conduct the business.”
Interim Town Manager Calvin Blanton, who served as one of two witnesses during the hearing, said there were seven meetings Isom could have attended between the May 22 election and Friday’s hearing. Blanton said Isom had not attended those meetings, nor had she given reason for why she wasn’t attending or taking the oath of office.
The second witness was Douglas Hefler, the man who hand delivered a letter to Isom as notification of the hearing.
Atlantic Beach will likely move toward holding another election to fill that seat.
Evans said he plans to remain in his council chair until he is either sworn in as mayor, or someone else takes the oath forcing him off the board. Evans also said that if Isom fails to appeal the decision and forfeits her seat, there is no reason she can’t run in future elections.
Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381.