LILBURN -- A once-in-a-lifetime trip could stand in the way of a Lilburn councilman fulfilling his civic duty.
Thomas Wight, an attorney who took office in 2012, announced to the City Council Monday he plans to leave in April to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
He expects to take six months to take the 2,663-mile-long trek from Mexico to Canada, and offered to resign from the council, although members declined the offer. But Mayor Johnny Crist says the councilman should step down and should not accept payment for the time he is out of office.
"I turned 50 and lost my mind," Wight said of the plans, which also requires a leave of absence from his law firm and has caused him to shut down the trial side of his practice. Wight is going through a divorce and three of his four children are adults, so he said he does not have family obligations to keep him home.
"I really don't feel like I'm abandoning anything," he said.
But Crist isn't so sure.
"It seems like the right thing to do is step down," said Crist. "I'm disappointed ... I think we all ought to be working hard."
Crist said the council bylaws do not appear to address this kind of situation, but with only three council members left, city business could be disrupted if someone gets sick or has an emergency.
"It sounds like the trip of a lifetime, but there are complications for us," he said, adding that the councilmembers have received their annual pay of $3,500 for the fiscal year, but Wight will miss half a year. "We are here to serve the people."
Wight, who began training for the hike since November, said he had spoken to constituents and many did not feel like the leave was a big deal. He said his offer to resign still stands.