An Emergency Called Meeting of the City of Sparks City Council was held on Wednesday, October 12, 2022, at 7 p.m. The following members were present: Councilman Lamar Sutton, Councilman Fenley Castleberry, Councilman Will Pewee, Councilman Harold Johnson, Councilman Sam Wilson, and Councilman Chris Cheatum.
Councilman Cheatum called the meeting to order at 7 p.m. and then gave the invocation.
Briefing of Mayor Status
City Attorney Tommy Coleman informed the Council of felony charges filed against Mayor Earl Jackson and Public Works Superintendent, Antoyo Tucker.
Attorney Coleman told the Council that Governor Brian Kemp will appoint a three-person tribunal to determine whether Mayor Jackson should be removed from office until the criminal charges are resolved.
Councilman Castleberry made a motion to go into executive session, closed to the public, to discuss personnel matters. Councilman Pewee seconded. All were in favor. The motion passed.
After discussion, Councilman Pewee made a motion to enter back into general session, open to the public. Councilman Sutton seconded. All were in favor. The motion passed.
Councilman Sutton made a motion to suspend Public Works Superintendent, Antoyo Tucker, with pay until the City Attorney finds out more information in regard to the charges. Councilman Pewee seconded the motion. Councilman Sutton, Councilman Pewee, and Councilman Castleberry voted in favor.
Councilman Johnson abstained from voting due to personal matters. Councilman Wilson opposed, due to a timeframe not being imposed in regard to the length of suspension with pay.
Councilman Castleberry then made a motion for Councilman Cheatum to act as Mayor Pro-Tem until a decision is made concerning Mayor Jackson. Councilman Pewee seconded the motion. All were in favor. The motion passed.
The Mayor Pro-Tem will temporarily take on the duties of presiding officer at meetings until the charges against Jackson are resolved. The Mayor Pro-Tem also will take on the other city duties held by the Mayor of Sparks. Those duties include Personnel Director, Purchasing Agent, and Finance Officer, according to the Georgia Municipal Association website.
Councilman Castleberry made a motion to adjourn. Councilman Pewee seconded. With no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned.
During the Emergency Called Meeting, concerned citizens in the audience barraged the City Attorney and Council Members with questions. City Attorney Coleman said at the time that he had no specific information on the charges against the Mayor and Public Works Superintendent. He told audience members that the legal process that the Governor must follow regarding an elected official accused of felonies is in a public document available online.
A few audience members made offensive and derogatory remarks about the Council Members. A couple of police officers were present to keep order. One of Tucker’s family members defended his character and was upset that the criminal charges had “ruined” Tucker’s reputation in the community. “He’s the kind of man who would give you the shirt right off his back,” the family member told the Adel News. During the meeting, the family member remarked about the discussion concerning Tucker’s employment status: “This is a shame. That’s a damn shame. It’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ in here.”