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Grovetown not expected to replace resigned councilman Monday

Posted: April 14, 2013 - 3:42pm  |  Updated: April 14, 2013 - 10:00pm

Twitter @ValerieRowell

 

Grovetown officials don’t expect to appoint a replacement at Monday’s meeting for a councilman who resigned after being convicted of federal bribery charges.

Former city Councilman Sonny McDowell submitted his resignation letter Tuesday, City Manager Shirley Beasley said.

“I wish I had two or three more like him,” Mayor George James said. “We’d really get some things done.”

McDowell, who was elected to the council in 2009, was instrumental in the development of the city’s Urban Redevelopment Plan aimed at revitalizing the city’s downtown center.

“My prayer is that you continue your dedication to the city as it rises towards its future,” McDowell wrote to James and councilmen in his resignation letter. “We have begun an ambitious undertaking to redefine the City of Grovetown and as I withdraw from the leadership role with which I have been entrusted, I now pas this effort on to you.”

A federal jury in Alabama convicted McDowell on April 4 of two counts of bribery for offering a “kickback” to a former Alabama Department of Public Safety employee in 2007.

The employee, who pled guilty a testified against McDowell, was helping the department solicit bids for an electronic fingerprint machine. The federal grand jury’s June indictment accused him of offering, and the employee accepting, a $1,700 check and $1 for every fingerprint scan related to the DHRs.

McDowell’s sentencing hearing is expected in the next few months. He can’t serve on the council after being convicted of a felony.

Because there is less than a year left of McDowell’s term, which ends at the end of the year, officials can appoint a replacement.

James said he and the council might discuss a few people who have expressed interest in the position at a work session before Monday’s council meeting. But he doesn’t expect to appoint a replacement until the May meeting.

“I’m glad we have some people interested in wanting to serve,” James said. “It would be nice if we’re able to have someone who knows the ropes, so to speak.”

Beasley said city officials are “well-versed” in replacing resigning council members as McDowell is the fourth to vacate a council seat mid-term in more than two years.

Former councilmen Robert Newman and Barry Davis resigned in January 2011 with just under a year left of the terms. Former Councilwoman Jennifer Jones and former Mayor Dennis Trudeau were appointed to fill those terms. Jones was reelected in November 2011.

In January, Jones resigned from her term, which ends at the end of 2015. Trudeau was the only person to qualify for the special election, which was needed to replace Jones because more than a year remained of her term.

“He’s been good about that,” James said of Trudeau’s willingness to step up and serve the city. “That’s been good. You can’t get somebody more experience and more knowledgeable than that.”

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