In October 2018, the city of Watkinsville advertised a new position of city administrator as someone who would “report directly to the mayor.”

About two and a half years later, Watkinsville Mayor Bob Smith stood before the city council and declared, “The unelected city manager has taken over the responsibilities and duties that once belonged to the mayor … Despite my best efforts, I have essentially been shut out of all decisions regarding the day-to-day management of Watkinsville.”

Shortly into the March 17 council meeting, Smith took to the podium and summarized his ongoing feud with the council and city manager. His pre-written speech was given to the clerk as an official resignation letter. With his wife, Laura, by his side, Smith then walked out of City Hall as a private citizen.

By resigning more than six months before the regularly scheduled mayoral election, Smith, who campaigned on a platform of fiscal responsibility, has placed an approximately $14,000 burden on the city

of Watkinsville.

That is the estimated expense of a special election, according to the Oconee Elections Office. City officials anticipate that a special election will take place June 15. The winner of the special election would still need to run again in November. 

After Smith left, Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Brian Brodrick assumed the role of acting mayor and thanked Smith for his 14-month tenure as mayor.

“I don’t think there’s anybody who has more passion for this city than Mayor Smith,” said Brodrick, who asked for a round of applause for Smith. 

Later in the meeting, Brodrick added, “While we disagree with his characterization of how this body has worked and government has worked, we wish him well.” 

For more on this story, see the March 25 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, call (706) 769-5175 or visit the tab on our website. 

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