Decatur Mayor Don Kyle and the City Council were sworn in to new four-year terms Monday night, surrounded by smiling family members and cheering friends and colleagues, but the optimistic atmosphere didn’t linger for long.
The selection of the council’s next president revealed simmering tensions between incumbent members but culminated in unanimous approval for District 3 Councilman Gary Hammon, who has served as president for the past two years. District 1 Councilman Billy Jackson abstained from the vote and said later he couldn’t support anyone on the council for president, including himself.
District 2 Councilman Roger Anders, who has served as president pro tem since 2010, tried unsuccessfully to lobby for support to be selected council president, while District 4 Councilman Charles Kirby proposed rotating the position each year.
Newcomer Chuck Ard, who was sworn in as District 5 councilman, supported the change, but he and Kirby withdrew it once Hammon promised to allow the council to review the proposal each November. Jackson said the position should be held for four years to ensure continuity on projects. Anders was selected to remain president pro tem.
Afterwards, Kyle said he felt good about his future relationship with the council and confident he and the councilmen could come together on decisions facing the city.
“It’s good that everyone feels comfortable to speak freely and exchange ideas,” Kyle said.
“I think it’s healthy to have a good debate, and that once a decision is made, we can all come together on it and move forward.”
Hammon, who worked closely with Kyle when Kyle was mayor from 2004-2008, called the new administration “the perfect storm.”
“I’m tickled to death at the people we have on board,” Hammon said.
Kyle will start work this week, reacquainting himself to City Hall and department heads while picking up projects left behind by former Mayor Don Stanford’s administration. He said his previous experience as mayor has prepared him to know what to expect and who he can call upon for help.
“You can try to change as much as you want, but you’ve got to work within the confines of the system you’re in,” he said.
Hammon and Jackson had a heated conversation after the ceremony in which Jackson accused Hammon and his fellow council members of “not being truthful to the public.”
“I told him I couldn’t support him for council president,” Jackson said afterward. “I couldn’t support Roger, Charles or Chuck. And if someone would have nominated me, I wouldn’t have voted for myself either because I believe the council president must have the support of the entire council.”
Hammon said he asked Jackson to work with him and the rest of the council in the upcoming term, at which point Jackson accused him and council members of being deceptive. The back and forth over controversial events of the past term lasted around 15 minutes as attendees nearby congratulated Kyle, Ard, Anders and Kirby.
“At the end of the day, we’re five grown men, and we can act like it,” Hammon said afterwards.
Jackson said residents should “expect more of the same” from the rest of the council but that he had a responsibility to his constituents and the city to try to work with them.
Don Kyle returned to City Hall as Mayor Monday with a swearing-in ceremony that included Councilmen Billy Jackson for District 1, Roger Anders for District 2, Gary Hammon for District 3, Charles Kirby for District 4 and Chuck Ard for District 5.
Annual salary: $106,631
Term: Four years
Annual salary: $18,127
Term: Four years
Annual salary: $15,995
Term: Four years
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