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Posted: April 24, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Mansfield interim mayor still deciding

If interim Mansfield Mayor Jefferson Riley wants to run to be mayor full time, he’s left in the odd position of having to resign from the city council a full two months ahead of an election, leaving the city to appoint yet another interim mayor during a time of transition.

When the Mansfield City Council discussed holding an election for a new mayor, Sept. 23 was identified as a possible date – the city has been told it can’t combine its elections with any other elections this year – which would be accompanied by a qualifying date a month ahead of time, Aug. 20-22.

However, if Riley waits until qualifying for mayor to resign his existing council seat, the city would then have to hold another election to fill the then-vacated council seat. Riley technically remains a councilman – he was elected this past November – but his interim position of mayor temporarily supersedes his council seat.

“An election for Mansfield costs us about $6,000. It would not be fair for me to cost the city another $6,000. I guess I have a decision to make before July 22,” Riley said in an email.

July 22 is the date when the city would officially advertise the election in The Covington News, required by state law because The News is the county’s legal organ. As long as Riley resigns before that date, a joint election for mayor and a council seat could be advertised, as required by the law.

Riley feels his experience as a business owner could help the city, but he’s hesitant to commit to a position with a lot of responsibility unless the city has a full-time staff member capable of running city operations.

“The City Council and myself all have full-time jobs. We are only part-time elected officials. Mansfield needs a full-time managerial person in place to help guide the city on a daily basis. I would like to see this person in place before the call for the election,” Riley said in an email.

The city is currently accepting resumes for a city treasurer/accountant.

Riley said he’s had numerous citizens ask him to run, as well as three fellow council members.

“I have had numerous citizens ask me to run and compliment the job that I have done in the last few weeks,” Riley said.

Riley assumed the position of mayor after Estona Middlebrooks resigned from the seat March 6, following months of questioning from council members and citizens about alleged mismanaging of funds.

Despite the recent controversies, Riley believes the city has a bright future.

“(The mayor) is basically a volunteer part-time position with full-time responsibilities. There is no defined structure in place, so it is like starting a new business that takes off quickly with immediate income,” he said in an email.
“I feel that my 30 plus years of business experience would certainly benefit Mansfield. It is going to take a little time to get the city organized and prepared to move forward.

“Extreme rapid growth is about to hit this area with the addition of Baxter to the neighborhood. The next mayor has to be ready to guide Mansfield and know what is good and what would be bad for the city. I have seen what bad growth can do to a city.”

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