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Northway wont resign mayors post
Council members, in 5-1 vote, ask Springfield mayor to step down
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Springfield Mayor Jeff Northway is holding his ground, after city council members voted to ask for his resignation Monday night.

After a brief executive session following Monday night’s meeting, council members voted 5-1 to ask Northway to resign as mayor.

“I said no, I’m not resigning,” Northway said.

Council member Jeff Ambrose made the motion to ask for Northway’s resignation under Section 45 of the city charter, which covers the removal of mayor and aldermen, and Council member Troy Allen offered the second to the motion.

“We felt as a council that we needed a change,” Allen said after the meeting. “We weren’t happy with some of the things going on with the mayor’s position.”

Charles Herman of the Savannah law firm Bignault and Carter, who has been retained by Northway, objected to the council’s vote.

“The only way to get a resignation is to do a recall,” Howard said. “It shouldn’t come down to five or six men. You asked for his signature, and he said no.”

Council member Kenny Usher upbraided Herman for interjecting.

“Mr. Mayor, did you call for discussion of this motion yet?” Usher said.

Usher also asked to table the matter “until we have something more clarity to determine if we have that authority,” he said. But with the motion already made and seconded, council members proceeded with their vote.

Allen, Ambrose, Usher, Charles Hinely and Butch Kieffer voted in favor of asking for Northway’s resignation. Max Neidlinger, the mayor pro tem, did not. Neidlinger was not present for the regular portion of the meeting but did take part in the executive session.

City council had sought an outside attorney to investigate allegations. Local attorney Mickey Kicklighter was hired to conduct the probe and has finished his investigation, though council has not gotten his full report.

“There are multiple things,” Allen said. “This didn’t come up overnight. We’ve been researching and investigating.”

Herman said Section 45 of the city charter has been rendered powerless by more recent state law. Under Section 45, any four members of the council may ask for the resignation of the mayor or another council member if they are deemed to be guilty of malpractice in office, willful neglect of duty, gross and willful abuse of the powers entrusted to them.

Should the official in question choose not to resign within five days of the request to do so, it is up to the council members in favor of the resignation to approach Effingham County Superior Court.

The judge would have the authority to hear testimony and has the power to remove the officer in question from his post.

In order to effect a recall, Springfield council members wishing to remove Northway must get signatures from 10 percent of the registered voters eligible to take part in the most recent Springfield municipal election.

Northway won election to the mayor’s seat in 2009, getting 138 of 160 votes cast, succeeding Barton Alderman. Alderman opted not to seek re-election.