LaFayette Councilman Stevie Rowe submitted his resignation to the mayor and city council at last week’s meeting, opening up the District C seat for the second time in the last five years.
Rowe was appointed to the council in District C in 2009 after former councilman Tony Thomas resigned. He was reelected in 2012 without opposition.
“I would like to thank the citizens of LaFayette for electing me as their representative for District C and at this time I would like to turn in my resignation for the simple fact that I am moving out of state and I will no longer be able to represent District C,” Rowe said to the council. “I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here, and I appreciate all that you have done for me but at this time I must step down.” In a lengthy farewell speech, Rowe also offered some criticism, specifically to council members Tammie Williams and David Ennis and Mayor Barry Moody.
“Since I’ve been on this council, I’ve seen a lot of things that I didn’t know when I first started that now has opened my eyes to what it means to be a public representative,” Rowe said. “Mr. Ennis, Ms. Tammie, you know I’ve worked with you since I’ve been here and you know that you have taught me a lot and my personal opinion is that if you would work with Mr. (Mike) Ellis and Mr. (Terry) Mangram, I think you can get a lot more accomplished than you can by bickering with each other. Because being on the city council we had too much bickering while I was there.
“Ms. Tammie, you are one of the strongest women I’ve ever met. You are very knowledgeable, and I think if you would spread some of that knowledge around with some of the young guys here, I think ya’ll can accomplish a whole lot more than you can by saying ‘I’m not going to work with them, I hate them.’ The energy you put into disliking people, if you put it into working with them I think you can accomplish more.
“Mr. Ennis, you’re one of the smartest men I’ve ever met, and if you were to take your time and share your knowledge with these guys, I think ya’ll can accomplish a lot. I think that’s the biggest mistake that this council makes up here. Is not sharing knowledge with each other.”
Rowe went on to say that disagreements between council members seem more like “grudges” to him.
He then went on the offensive against the mayor. “Mr. Mayor, I think you need to be a mayor for a change,” Rowe said. “You are the head of this thing, that’s what you need to be. Quit following and start leading some time. Because the city deserves better representation than what we are giving.”
When Rowe was finished, a motion was quickly made to accept his resignation and was unanimously approved.
All the council members present and mayor would thank Rowe for his service, though Ennis offered some comments in response.
“Sometimes when you are involved with a subject, you might not disagree as much as it appears,” Ennis said. “One thing is for sure, I can work with anybody at anytime but you have to both approach it from the standpoint that you want to work with them than from an outside critical standpoint. We have accomplished some things we need to accomplish but there are also limitations based on timing and resources.
“To think that I disagree with another council member just because I don’t like them is absurd, and anybody that has ever worked around here and paid attention knows that is a fact. Just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean that I don’t like you. It doesn’t mean anything except that we disagree.”
Ennis, who has served as the city’s mayor previously, also offered a few statements about Rowe’s comments to Mayor Moody. “Mayor, you can only do what this council provides policy and guidelines for you to do, and I just want to speak up on your behalf,” he added.
The council made no comments about replacing Rowe at the meeting, but they will have to act fast to do so. Policy dictates that the mayor and council have 60 days from the resignation to appoint a new council member. If the council makes no decision in that time, then the mayor must submit names to Gov. Robert Bentley, who must then appoint a new member within 30 days. If, after 90 days from the resignation, the seat is still vacant, then a special election must be held.