Two people addressed the Midway city council at a special meeting on Wednesday, March 20th. Midway resident Leslie Steele listed several objections to instances in which at least one council member allegedly is not abiding by city and state requirements.
“One of the greatest fundamental and democratic freedoms an individual can have is the opportunity to run for office and serve the people who live where they live. The city’s charter requires that you uphold the laws and ordinances of the city and …. if you choose to do anything other than what is required of you, you are doing great harm to this city and citizens and should not serve on this council. We have entrusted in you the ability to follow the laws and charter you govern,” said Steele in a letter to the council.
“I stand before you … requesting that you disqualify Charles Willis from having the ability to seek office in District 4. It is well known that Mr. Willis does not reside in his district and in fact resides in Councilwoman Barber’s district. Examples of proof that he resides at 33870 Blue Star Highway, Apt. 302 include the delivery of council business to his apartment by city employees for his signatures for checks, and photos of his abandoned home that is uninhabitable,” Steele continued.
Steele provided photos of Willis’ trailer located on Peters Road that has no electricity or power box.
“The most troubling intention of fraud by Mr. Willis is the fact that he could have run for office in Mrs. Barber’s district since he currently resides there. He could have even run against Councilman Knight whose seat is at-large. However, he chose to instead intentionally mislead the voters of Midway by seeking a seat in a district where he does not reside. You must disqualify him for election. If you don’t, then you too are defrauding the people of Midway as the charter clearly states he must reside in the district he is running for office for,” Steele’s letter said.
Other objections to Willis’ council service included providing a P.O. Box address in his candidate’s oath and inclusion of undue burden for a municipal candidate, she said, without the required city and ordinance to do so.
A discussion earlier in the meeting about former city manager Auburn Ford was addressed by the council.
“The council took action in January and it’s now March. We need to go ahead and pay Mr. Ford,” said councilman Jerrod Holton.
Mayor Ella Barber objected: “We haven’t finished investigations on this. He was going to pursue litigation. I heard new information last meeting that I hadn’t heard before. Once you pay out the money, you can’t get it back,” said Barber.
Mayor pro tem Willis said he would be releasing a statement about the matter in April after an independent audit. “We need some discretion about the audit. It is the city’s fault,” said Willis.
“If you know something we don’t know, you need to let us know what it is,” said Holton.
Auburn Ford then addressed the council. “This is going on and on and on. I am due severance pay, annual leave and sick pay. I was terminated because councilwoman Allean Robinson said I was not doing my duties. Whatever investigation (you’re doing) does not come from why I was terminated,” said Ford.
A motion by Jerrod Holton to pay Ford died and he requested that the issue be put on the April agenda.