Residents of the City of Riceboro requested that the City Council formally prepare the documents to officially recall City Mayor Joseph Harris. The requests happened Sept. 7, during their regular City council meeting.
During public participation, resident Brenda Addie called the Mayor incompetent and accused Harris of no longer residing within the City limits. She said he should be recalled for maleficence and misconduct. Addie cited the City charter, section 5-13 and said the Mayor’s behavior fit the category allowing for the recall.
Resident Dorothy Cottom also called for the Mayor’s recall saying he has failed to perform his duties, continues to misuse City property and for misconduct in office.
“I believe in giving every individual, residents and citizens the right to voice their opinions,” Harris said after the meeting. “I support freedom of speech and therefore I have nothing negative to say about what those two residents wanted to express.”
Harris said he has not a doubt that should a recall petition be filed, he would prevail stating his work ethics would show he has been doing his job.
Former Riceboro Mayor John McIver didn’t mention recalling the Mayor but called the Mayor disrespectful for removing all the photos of the former City officials from the walls of City Hall.
“The removal of the pictures of these former elected officials showed grave disrespect,” McIver said directly to Harris, which was met with applause from everyone at the meeting including the Councilmembers. “Those pictures should have never come down.”
After the meeting Harris said he had stated to McIver and other residents, that he was working on creating a collage of former elected officials to be placed within the City.
“To make of a presentation,” he said. And it was just one picture and it wasn’t taken down because of any ill-feelings of any leadership at all.”
McIver and others have accused the Mayor of removing more than one photo and that he hasn’t specified who is doing the collage and how long it would take.
“Joseph Harris is focused on dividing the city, and undoing all of the foundation laid by previous administrations, hence why he has removed and refused to put back up photos of previous key contributors in the city’s history,” Jamal McIver wrote in an email to the Courier in response to a previous Courier article published Aug. 18. “He maintains he has taken them down to create a collage, but they have been missing for months now, and furthermore, a resident at the aforementioned council meeting (of Aug. 3,) requested they be replaced. The citizens have not taken well to this and are upset at his childish actions.
At the Sept. 7, meeting McIver requested the Council adopt a resolution to have the pictures returned.
Councilman John Young asked City attorney John Pirkle if he could make a motion on the matter on the spot. Young then made a motion to have the Mayor, “Immediately have the photos put back in City Hall.”
The Council approved the motion, unanimously.
Harris said he thinks he is under scrutiny because some may oppose his ideas and views. He said he tries to bring creative and new ideas but, because of his youth, folks are unwilling to embrace some of his ideas for growth and improvement.
Harris said the City has accomplished a lot even during the pandemic. He said they’ve given away food to those in need partnering with Manna House, they’ve updated their website to allow for online pay services, they held City functions and continue to improve infrastructure and working on bettering water services to the community and lowering lingering high bills. Harris said they need to remain focused in creating partnerships with other municipalities.
“When we start bantering about things that are not significant, we can lose that focus and be deterred to something that is not significant and doesn’t leave a lasting impression on our community.”