Greensburg is without a mayor for the second time in under four months following the resignation late Tuesday of Mayor-elect Willie Hurst.
Hurst, a former Greensburg alderman, was elected in March to serve a four-year term as mayor beginning Dec. 1. Gov. John Bel Edwards later appointed him to the post on an interim basis after the June 2 resignation of Burke Jones, who had come under fire for not living in Greensburg for more than two years despite an ordinance requiring residency for its elected officials.
Hurst said Thursday that a dust-up he had with Greensburg’s police chief earlier this year over the handling of a domestic abuse case played no part in his resignation.
“No, ma’am, this was purely for personal reasons, just to kind of move on with my life,” Hurst said, noting that he and his wife had made the decision together in the interest of their family.
GREENSBURG — In the shadow of Greensburg’s water tower, atop the hill at the corner of La. 1…
Nine days after the March 5 election, Police Chief Tim Brown and another officer arrested a man accused of choking a woman. A neighbor tried to intervene in the arrest, saying Hurst would fire the chief after taking office. The neighbor called the mayor-elect, who came to the scene and asked questions about whether the arrest was necessary, then left.
Three months later, following Jones’ resignation as mayor and a failed bid by Hurst to have the Board of Aldermen appoint him as interim mayor, Brown arrested Hurst and the neighbor on counts of public intimidation and retaliation, obstruction of justice and interfering with a law enforcement investigation.
District Attorney Scott Perrilloux, of the 21st Judicial District, later declined to prosecute Hurst, saying the officers’ body camera footage showed the mayor-elect had not committed a crime.
But the incident weighed heavily on Greensburg officials, who told The Advocate in late June that they just wanted the matter settled so they could move on.
The Board of Aldermen later declined to pay Hurst’s attorney fees stemming from the dispute.
“This has not been an easy thing for my family, but with the good Lord’s help, we made it through,” Hurst said. “I’ve left the town with no open issues. Everything has been taken care of. All the flood victims are being taken care of, FEMA is all set up and cleanup is in progress. It was just a good time for me to go.”
Town attorney Clifton Speed sent Hurst’s resignation letter to the Secretary of State’s Office by certified mail on Wednesday.
Speed said Thursday that the town will now have three open seats to fill during the March 2017 special elections: the mayor’s, as well as two on the Board of Aldermen.
District A Alderman Jimmie Meadows, re-elected without opposition in the March 2016 regular election, died June 15. His widow, Brenda McNabb Meadows, is serving in his place until the special election can be held next year.
District C Alderwoman Laura Ann Webb, also re-elected without opposition in March, resigned over the summer for personal reasons, Speed said. The board appointed Huey B. Travis as the interim replacement until the spring special election.
Interim Alderwoman Amanda Ficklin-Mixon — elected in March to the District E seat, then appointed as interim alderwoman for District B following Hurst’s appointment as interim mayor — is the board’s mayor pro tem and will run the meetings until another mayor is appointed or elected, Speed said.
Jo Ellen Carruth was elected in March to the District B seat for a four-year term starting Dec. 1, but she could not be appointed to the temporarily open seat after Hurst became interim mayor because her son, Charles “Danny” Carruth, is the District D alderman, Speed said.
“We asked the Ethics Commission about that, and they said that she could not be appointed to the board as long as her son is a member, even if he were to abstain, although she could be — and has been — elected to the board,” Speed said.
“It’s like a game of musical chairs here in Greensburg,” he said, “but hopefully things will calm back down soon.”