When Estona Middlebrooks was elected mayor of Mansfield, we took it as a signal that the good folks of the community were going to be represented by a young, vibrant new leader who would help the town move into a new age.
That promise is why we were disappointed to learn (as revealed in Sunday’s paper) that the mayor had potentially abused her office by inappropriately using the city’s debit card; her electric bill was also reimbursed by the city for missing time at her full-time job while helping the city recover from the April tornado.
To be fair to the mayor, she didn’t authorize the paying of her utility bill, and, once the issue was raised, she paid back the money. However, there are also questions about why she was allowed to get three months behind in the first place, when the city’s policies call for customers’ power to cut off after 60 days.
She has said she is willing to pay back other expenses if they were not property authorized by the council. She also said these incidents were all "rookie" mistakes.
Similar to Councilman Marty Smallwood, we don’t buy that explanation. The evidence seems to point to either intentional misuse or a lack of thought and consideration when making purchases and asking for reimbursements. Either way, the mayor violated the trust of the council and the residents she represents.
We’re not sure that trust can be won back, which will make it difficult for Middlebrooks to effectively serve the city as mayor.
Some vocal citizens would like the mayor to resign. She just might want to consider that option for the benefit of the city.