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Mayor objects to councilman's leave of absence

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.

Comments

BrendaLee 1 year, 7 months ago

Well, isn't that interesting. Lilburn Councilman Thomas Wight offered his resignation when he announced his sabbatical, the city didn't accept the resignation and now they want to make a stink about it. Whoa Nellie!

IMHO, it is not appropriate for Councilman Wight, who was duly elected by the citizens of Lilburn to decide halfway through his term to take a sabbatical for 6 months. That means the citizens who elected him will not be represented. That said, the Lilburn Mayor and Council should either accept his resignation or Councilman Wight should post phone his hike until after his term end. GRRR!!!Strong

QUOTE: "...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."

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Reason 1 year, 7 months ago

I say go for it and do it while you are still feeling well enough. You only live once. He must have looked at the pros and cons and offered to resign, as public service was a mistake at this time in his life. I admire that, more than someone that stays in office for the power and perks (Not that it might be the case in Lilburn, but elsewhere)? How many folks would like to to something like this, but are trapped and can't get away from their obligations to "The Man"? If your family is fine with it and you are in the clear, so be it. Vote someone else in. A hassle? Yes, but it happens in life.

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BrendaLee 1 year, 7 months ago

Reason, I have no problem that he wants to do something that challenging. I think the issue is that he MUST make a choice if this is the only time he can take on this adventure. Either resign and take on the adventure OR remain in office, represent the people of Lilburn as he was elected to do and take on the hiking adventure at the end of his term.

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R 1 year, 7 months ago

"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."

"Wight, who began training for the hike since November,"

Apparently right after the election? Is it possibly a case of "I won and I'm now bored"?

"I really don't feel like I'm abandoning anything,"

Has this gentleman been in office long enough to know? Maybe leaving the council in limbo might save some funds down the line, who knows?

Personally, I'm glad I'm not a city taxpayer within this jurisdiction...

(I must admit when I first read the headline I thought it was about Snellville, anybody else?)

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Karl 1 year, 7 months ago

If it were Snellville the headline would have just read, "Mayor objects to councilmen"

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Karl 1 year, 7 months ago

I agree with BrendaLee. Wight offered to resign, but the council said they wouldn't accept his resignation, yet now they're griping about it.

Screw the council and they're fickleness. You can't turn down his offer to resign and then b!4ch about him taking the time off.

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pondering 1 year, 7 months ago

Yes our city council is no different than many others. Power and Perks is the word. They talk out of both sides of their mouth. If you have ever had a conversation with the Mayor you would know what I am talking about. Tax money wasted every day with them and their pet projects. They spend more time on their parks and walkways than the actual problems with Lilburn. Crime is rampant. Do you see them addressing this, NO. Areas of town are decaying while they continue to spend large amounts of money on bad projects. Let the man go on the hike and dock his pay.

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NewsReader 1 year, 7 months ago

I don't have a dog in this fight, but IMHO, this guy obviously has issues with responsibility (i.e. 6 month hike in the midst of his commitment to office, divorce in the midst of his marriage, and his commitment to family). I don't really care if this clown needs to go find himself because he turned 50 and is going through a mid life crisis. Most of us are happy to make it to that milestone. He needs to go. Even if he does stay at this point, this is a distraction and his mind will be anywhere but on Council business. As for the rest of the Council, why would you ever decline an offer of resignation? That's just dumb! If an individual goes through the effort of submitting their resignation, they've already resigned; in their mind at least.

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kevin 1 year, 7 months ago

I have one comment. How did the taxpayer in Lilburn get away with paying their council members only $3,000 a year. What does Nash and the Gwinnett BOC get paid in one year? I bet it is a little more than $3,000. As for Mr. Wight, he surely won't be missing $1,500!!

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raah 1 year, 7 months ago

I hope that you realize that the population of Gwinnett County is vastly larger than little ol' Lilburn, so what is your point?

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MichelleCouch 1 year, 7 months ago

"Crist said the council bylaws do not appear to address this kind of situation"

Okay - before we tar and feather this guy.... open your minds just a bit.

Based on the Mayor's quote I referenced above, it seems that the council's rejection of Wight's resignation may have been based on administrative reasons - for now. That's not to say that the resignation can't be accepted at a later date. To wit, Wight can also refund a portion of his salary as well.

These are all issues that can be worked out. There's no need for all the ruckus (Mayor and council included).

As for Wight - I believe he took office about two years ago, not just this November. So cut him a bit of a break. I'm also sure he didn't "plan" on his recent divorce. So perhaps he is dealing with it the best he can. I don't think it is our place to make judgments about his personal life or how he may be dealing with an unexpected personal crisis.

I met Mr. Wight when he was running and he seemed to have good intentions. It seems his life has taken some unexpected turns, so perhaps he is making a few adjustments.

Maybe you would too!

Okay, my lunch break is over now... getting back to work. Cheers everyone!

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raah 1 year, 7 months ago

Nowhere in the article did it say that the council was complaining about the situation. The only one quoted as complaining was Mr. Crist.

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John5214 1 year, 7 months ago

If you don't live in Lilburn, go comment on something else. If you live in Lilburn and you don't like what Mr. Wight is doing, then vote him out of office next election. Frankly anyone who completes the PCT should be the Mayor. It shows a lot more guts than Mr. Crist has shown since his election.

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R 1 year, 7 months ago

Sorry it may not work that way - decisions or lack thereof in one jurisdiction may impact others just outside it.

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