SPRINGFIELD — By court order, Springfield Mayor Charles Martin tendered his resignation during a special meeting Thursday, but he may be on the town’s payroll again in the near future.
The Springfield Board of Aldermen discussed creating a new position to oversee the construction of the town’s water system and implementation of a billing plan. They talked about hiring Martin for the task.
The matter eventually was tabled, however, to give Town Attorney Brian Abels an opportunity to take the matter to the state Ethics Board. Under certain circumstances, the town may have to wait two years before hiring its former mayor, he explained.
The job likely would be part time for a period of about six months. There was debate over whether the position would be by contract, which Abels said could affect the ethics rules.
Town officials said Martin would be the best choice for the role because he is already familiar with the project. In fact, when he pleaded guilty to criminal mischief, the judge allowed him to stay in office for 90 days specifically to oversee the water system, at the board’s request.
Earlier this year, Martin pleaded guilty to his involvement in reducing a woman’s drunken driving arrest. As a condition of his plea, he escaped jail time but was ordered to step down as mayor, though the court did not preclude him from running again in the future. Former Springfield Police Chief James Jones, who also was implicated, accepted a similar deal.
Thursday, the Board of Alderman accepted Martin’s resignation, though Marsha Sherburne said she made the motion with reluctance, and clerk Marie Kreutzer cried as she called for the vote, which was unanimous.
“It has been an awesome journey to meet and work with so many special people,” Martin said. “I’ll still be around. If you ever need anything, just give me a call.”
The board elected Mayor Pro Tem Tommy Abels, cousin of the attorney, to step in as interim mayor until an election can be held in March. Abels will have 20 days to nominate a new alderman to take his position, which must be approved by the board, perhaps as early as next Wednesday during its regularly scheduled meeting.
Though Martin and Jones have now received their punishments, the ticket-fixing incident is not over for Springfield.
The police officer who wrote the initial ticket has filed a lawsuit against the town, alleging harassment and other poor treatment by officials at the time of the initial incident. The town requested a stay while the case wound its way through criminal court, though Thursday, the police officer’s attorney said he would be requesting the stay to be lifted so the civil suit may proceed.
Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, @SteveRHardy.