State Sen. Emanuel Jones calls for mayor’s resignation, federal investigation
Gov. Brian Kemp has signed SB 21, shifting power and authority to the five members of the city council, and reducing the powers of the mayor. The bill is effective immediately, said State Sen. Emanuel Jones, who sponsored the legislation. Kemp signed the bill on Thursday (April 1).
Jones told On Common Ground News that he urged the governor to sign the bill immediately and he received an email today confirming the governor had signed it. Historically, bills that are approved by the Georgia House of Representatives become effective on July 1. However, state statutes provide that local legislation may be signed immediately.
Jones said he now plans to call for Mayor Jason Lary’s immediate resignation and he is pushing for a federal investigation into the city’s alleged misuse of $6.2 million in CARES Act funding that it received in October 2020.
“I’m elated that the governor has signed SB 21 and I look forward to the city council moving forward with what is in the best interest of the city,” Jones said. “I am requesting that Mayor Jason Lary resign immediately because of his abuse of power, his abuse of federal CARES Act funds, and questionable real estate transactions. I’m calling on a federal investigation of the City of Stonecrest so that all funds can be properly accounted for and those who misused and abused the process can be held accountable.”
Mayor Lary made the following statement:
“I’m asking for Emanuel Jones’ resignation for collusion, ethics violations, and voter suppression. We did not receive notice in the window of time with regards to this new charter. He colluded with council to do it. We have to have notice that our charter is being changed and that did not happen. ”
The House local legislation calendar provides the following summary of the bill:
“SB 21 limits the city of Stonecrest mayor to voting only in the event of a tie of the council. The bill also provides for term limits; modifies provisions relating to elected officials forfeiting office; modifies provisions relating to the power and authority of the council; provides for the powers and duties of the office of the mayor pro tempore; revises the powers and duties of the mayor; and revises provisions relating to the city manager, city clerk, city attorney, tax collector, finance director and internal auditor.
Here are additional highlights of the bill:
The bill includes term limits for the mayor and council as follows:
“No person shall serve more than two consecutive full terms as mayor or as a council member. A person serving a partial term shall not constitute a full term… A person who has served two consecutive full terms as mayor or as a councilmember shall be eligible for the office of mayor or councilmember following the intervening of a full four-year term.”
The mayor shall serve as a ceremonial head of the city and as its official representative to federal, state and local governmental bodies and officials. The mayor will not run the city council meetings.
The mayor pro tem shall preside over all city council meetings, setting the agenda after receiving input from the councilmembers, city manager, mayor and the public.
The annual salary for the mayor remains at $20,000 and $15,000 for councilmembers.
Three councilmembers shall constitute a quorum and shall be authorized to transact business for the city council. The mayor shall only be counted toward the making of a quorum.
The bill adds a new section to the city charter (Section 7, 2.11), authorizing the city council to establish oversight, policy and standing committees of the council. The city council also may designate an official legal organ for the city and have the sole authority to initiate any legal action or lawsuit on behalf of the City of Stonecrest after the approval of at least four city council members.
The city council shall appoint the city attorney, city clerk, city finance director, tax collector, receiving nominations from the mayor, mayor pro tem or any council members for those appointments. The council shall also appoint an internal auditor. There are more guidelines concerning the internal auditor.
The mayor shall nominate a city manager within 60 days of a vacancy, with confirmation from the city council. In the event the council does not confirm the mayor’s initial nomination, the mayor shall nominate a second individual. In the event the city council does not confirm the second nomination, the mayor pro tem may offer as many nominations as needed until the city council confirms. Unless otherwise authorized by a majority of the city council, vacancies for city manager must be filled within 90 days of the vacancy.
To read SB 21 in its entirety visit https://www.legis.ga.gov/ or https://www.billtrack50.com/BillDetail/1288925.