Some people, it seems, remembered their family history and refused to repeat it.
That’s the initial lesson from the strange turn of events last week in the city of Grovetown, whose motto should be “Everything (and Everyone) is Relative.”
Jennifer Jones quit her post on city council this past week. She first was appointed in 2011 to fulfill the term of one of two council members, one of whom resigned when he got divorced, the other when he got married. She won election a few months later. Her resignation came three days after she ignited an uproar at city hall with a motion not to renew the annual contracts of several city workers, including City Clerk Vicky Capetillo.
Jones cited “family” reasons for her departure in an email sent to Mayor George James and City Manager Shirley Beasley. She didn’t elaborate, and didn’t return a phone call requesting comment from News-Times reporter Valerie Rowell.
There’s little doubt that Jones’ actions at that Jan. 14 council meeting weren’t scripted with anyone else on council. Her motion not only failed for lack of a second, but caught the mayor so off-guard that he lost his temper, cussed up a storm and stalked out of the room.
A couple of decades ago, such upheaval was the norm in Grovetown. The city had yet to experience its massive recent growth, but still had enough old-timer/newcomer friction to cause turmoil.
That all changed when Mayor Dennis Trudeau – the stepfather of Capetillo, who is the daughter of a former council member – took over and brought an air of calm to the city. Grovetown since has prospered enormously, with the areas surrounding it representing Columbia County fastest population growth.
It’s important, however, to remember that the turmoil preceding Trudeau’s 20 years as mayor served a purpose: It shook up the way the city did business, ultimately for the better. Jones’ actions could have a similar effect if it leads other council members, including brothers Dale and Bruce Stoddard, to understand that disagreements don’t have to be disagreeable – or kept quiet.
Considering the police chief recently was replaced in the midst of an investigation of employee complaints, and a new human resources director (the current mayor’s sister) was hired to, among other things, bring order to some behind-the-scenes chaos, it’s entirely possible Jones (whose husband is a Grovetown police captain) had valid aims for her effort.
By walking away at the first sign of what she had to know would be controversy, she didn’t do the city, or herself, any favors. Perhaps her replacement, who will be named after the city foots the bill for a special election, will keep that in mind.
After all: There’s nothing wrong with a little argument, as long as you keep it in the family.