COVINGTON, Ga. - Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston stepped down from his position on the Newton County Solid Waste Authority (SWA) Monday, April 24 after claiming the conditions of the authority were not something under which he could volunteer.
Johnston, who was appointed to the SWA by SWA member and Newton County Commissioner Lanier Sims, joined the authority in 2016 “with the intention of serving the citizens of Newton County by helping navigate through some obstacles when it came to solid waste disposal,” according to his resignation letter.
Johnston reported understanding the scope of work given to the SWA and was prepared to begin working towards improvements.
“I assumed the authority would have the ability to conduct business and make decisions that were best for the county as an entity free from influence of county officials,” Johnston wrote in his resignation letter. “I was excited at the creation of an authority to handle the solid waste issues because I thought it would move this important topic and relevant business away from the political arena. Unfortunately, I have learned that is not the case.
“The lack of communication and restrictions placed on the solid waste authority are not conditions under which I can volunteer.”
Johnston wished the best moving forward to Newton County and the SWA, but said he it was in everyone’s best interest for him to step down immediately.
"I have a lot of respect for the people on there," he said. "I'm not trying to make their job harder or throw them under the bus."
Johnston sent the resignation letter to Wayne Haynie, chairman of the SWA, Newton County Chairman Marcello Banes and Sims. Sims will be tasked with filling Johnston’s seat on the authority.
Johnston has been mayor in Covington since Jan. 1, 2012. He was re-elected in 2015 to a second term starting Jan. 1, 2016. He said, with his position with the city, he could see how his position on the SWA could possibly be a conflict of interest in the future because the City of Covington the largest customer the county has for the landfill.