Mayor responds to Few questions

Last week’s Demopolis City Council decision to terminate Fire Chief Ronnie Few led to questions that Mayor Mike Grayson attempted to answer at a gathering of local citizens at Christian Chapel Baptist Church Tuesday evening.

“I don’t know that I was able to provide the specifics the group was looking for, but it was a positive discussion,” Grayson said. “Obviously this is a personnel matter and there are certain things I cannot say in a public forum. I had to speak in generalities due to the nature of the situation and the fact that it involved good name and character.”

The mayor added, “The bottom line is that the council acted appropriately and voted 4-2 not to retain Chief Few.”

Christian Chapel Pastor Fred Moore said the meeting was scheduled because “the pastors of several churches expressed concerns about Chief Few’s removal. We have heard (Few’s) side, and we simply asked the Mayor to meet with us so we could hear his side.”

Rev. Moore told the Watchman that he personally moderated the meeting to ensure a positive and constructive dialogue. “I would accept nothing other than that in this church,” he said.

Grayson agreed that the meeting was productive. “I think Rev. Moore did a good job keeping the meeting on track,” Grayson said. “I have the utmost respect for Rev. Moore, and in fact, I had friends in the crowd last night. This was not an adversarial thing at all. Unfortunately I do think there are those who are pushing this for political purposes, and that’s a shame. We’ve got bigger and more important things to work on.”

Rev. Moore deferred further comment on the meeting to Thomas Moore, a former City Council member who did not seek re-election when his term expired in October. The former councilman was present at Tuesday’s meeting, and said he does not feel the group as a whole was satisfied with the mayor’s answers.

“He shared no valid reasons for not re-appointing Chief Few,” Moore said, adding that the mayor indicated he does not feel the council would be willing to re-consider the decision. “The issues that the mayor stated during the council meeting – budgetary, operational, organizational – those are not executive session-type issues. Either a person is doing the job and spending the money appropriately, or he’s not. If there was non-performance in those areas, then we were not told what they were.”

Moore said the group, which he described as “individuals from all walks of life and several area pastors” will meet again Nov. 29 to decide “what further action, if any, we need to take.”

By a 4-2 vote last week, the city council decided not to re-appoint Few, who was named Fire Chief during previous Mayor Cecil Williamson’s term. The vote to remove Few was not without controversy at the meeting, as council member Mitchell Congress stormed out in protest following the vote and a brief heated exchange with Grayson and council member Bill Meador.

Congress suggested that race was the motive behind Few’s dismissal – a charge Grayson and Meador vehemently denied.