2 Great Falls councilmen resign

GREAT FALLS -- Two Great Falls Town Council members have resigned in less than a week, including one who said he'd lost faith in the mayor and a majority of the council members.

Councilmen Toby Gladden and Jack Taylor resigned within days of each other. Neither man could be reached for comment Tuesday.

As first reported Tuesday morning at heraldonline.com, Gladden handed in his resignation note to Mayor H.C. "Speedy" Starnes on Monday before the regularly scheduled council meeting, which he did not attend.

His handwritten letter simply stated his resignation was effective that day. There was no explanation as to why he was leaving except for a sentence that said, "I will be unable to serve."

Taylor turned in his letter last week, which said his resignation was effective Dec. 12.

"When I ran for council, I truly felt that I could work with the mayor and other members to help my town and its citizens," Taylor's letter states. "I now feel that I can't be effective because I have lost confidence in the Mayor and the majority of the members."

Starnes could not be reached for comment.

The resignations come after the council's 4-3 vote to terminate town clerk Julie Blackwell on Sept. 25, a day after she accused four council members of holding an illegal meeting.

Gladden and Jack Taylor, along with council members Earl Taylor and Maxine Wood, supported the decision to fire Blackwell. This was the same quartet of members Blackwell confronted about the alleged illegal meeting at Town Hall.

After a public outcry over Blackwell's firing, the council unanimously voted to bring her back a few weeks later.

Jack Taylor's brother, Councilman Earl Taylor, said he wouldn't speculate as to why the other council members left.

"I can't answer for them," he said.

When asked if the resignations surprised him, he said: "In a way, yes ... I guess any time you got anybody resigning from office, it's always a surprise."

Earl Taylor said he didn't know how losing two members would affect the council, which has seven members, including the mayor.

Councilman H.C. Wright said he, too, was surprised by the leaders' sudden departure. But he didn't seem worried about the council's future.

"I don't think it's gonna hurt us," he said. "I think we'll keep rolling."

When asked if he thought the abrupt resignations had anything to do with Blackwell's firing and rehiring, Wright, one of the three council members who voted against firing Blackwell, wasn't sure.

"Honestly, I wish I could answer that question," he said.

State law does not require a special election for an office if a vacancy occurs within 180 days of a regularly scheduled election, said Earl Moore, director of the Chester County Election Commission.

The next regular election for some Great Falls Town Council seats will be in April.