In an "official statement from "Mayor and Council," sent out late Saturday afternoon, Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter and councilwomen Jan Bass and Tara Baraniak are calling for the resignation of councilmember John Fesperman, claiming he now lives in Columbus.
Fesperman couldn't immediately be reached.
Carpenter said he confirmed Tuesday that Fesperman was moving and "wanted to stay until June, which I didn't really like. Then he changed his mind and texted yesterday that he planned to stay the remainder of his term."
Carpenter said he thought about waiting to make the announcement Monday, "but didn't want it to look like the city was withholding information."
Carpenter said the city's charter says one must have legal residence for two years before running for office, a requirement Fesperman met.
"He obviously did when he ran. Residency requirement in charter is ambiguous, something I will seek to change. He may not be operating outside the charter, but, in a real, practical, and fair way, he should not work/live 250 miles from the city and expect he can serve the residents," Carpenter said.
Fesperman, a golf pro, is in his second term, which expires 2019.
Here's what the initial press release said.
Richmond Hill Mayor and Council, upon verifying that Councilmember John Fesperman is working and living in Columbus, Georgia, are calling for his resignation from his city council post. This will provide to our citizens the commitment, time, immediacy, and efficient representation that they deserve. -Official statement from Mayor and Council
Even if Mr. Fesperman is able to return 1-2 days per week, working and living 4 hours from Richmond Hill creates an impossible and unfair situation in conducting the business of our city. We urge John to do the right thing and resign immediately, and wish him the best in his new pursuits. -Mayor Russ Carpenter
It is not just an issue for Mayor and Council, it’s a problem for our entire city. John Fesperman can not make decisions for our city when his primary residence is not here. –Councilmember Tara Baraniak
Additionally, Bass said she supported both Carpenter and Baraniak "100 percent" on the issue and wants the "charter followed in order to provide residents transparency in their government officials," according to a text.