(Posted April 29, 2016)
By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
West Jefferson village council member Herman Stanley, who took office in January, has offered his resignation because he says an elective office creates a conflict with this state pension.
Stanley’s letter of resignation will be read at the May 2 council meeting.
“I want to apologize to the voters,” Stanley said April 26 when explaining his decision. “I feel real bad about this. I was their selection. They voted for me. I had no idea this would happen.”
Stanley worked at the Corrections Reception Center in Orient for 26 years before taking a medical retirement in the fall of 2014. He started getting his Public Employees Retirement System pension in October 2014.
“Going in, I knew I couldn’t get a job for one calendar year,” Stanley said. “I could never get a job in public service, but I didn’t know that an elected position was part of it. The elected position was the part that got confusing.”
Stanley said he turned himself in “because I wanted to do what was right.”
His resignation became effective at the end of April. Council President Steve Johnston said steps to be taken would be announced at council’s May 2 meeting. Council has 30 days after the resignation becomes effective to appoint a successor.
“It’s not a crime; it’s just the way it is,” Johnston told Stanley. “You are dedicated to the community.”
Citing Stanley’s 18 years with the West Jefferson Youth Athletic Association (WJYAA), Johnston added, “You have done so much for the community and tried to make it a lot better for the kids. There’s no way to thank you for that.”
Similar sentiments came from fellow council members Doug Eakins, Jim King and Lorie Cofagno as all told Stanley how nice it was to work with him.
“Jen sends along her best wishes,” Cofagno said, noting that council member Jen Warner was unable to attend the resignation announcement.
Had Stanley been able to take age and service retirement, holding an elected office would not have created a problem.
Council members earn $3,000 a year and pay into Social Security, according to the village charter. Stanley’s decision came after discussions with the village’s law director Ron Parsons and assistant Mike Murray.
“Don’t beat yourself up,” said Eakins. “You just got caught in bureaucratic red tape. We’re going to miss you.”
Stanley had severed ties with WJYAA after 18 years so he would be able to seek election. He hasn’t decided if he’ll return to work with that group “but probably will.”
In last November’s election, he, Eakins and King were elected as council members at large. Also in that race were Richard King and Mike Conley, to whom Stanley offered apologies.