Gould Mayor Earnest Nash Jr. announced his resignation Thursday, citing frustration with the status quo and a desire to move on to something else.
“I have finished the race and my departure is at hand,” Nash said to a standing-room-only crowd in city council chambers. “As of 12 midnight on the 21st of February, I will no longer be your mayor. I will no longer be your whipping boy. You will no longer abuse me. You will no longer make my family suffer. You will no longer sit in this council chamber and laugh in my face.”
Nash was serving the last year of a four-year elected term that would have ended in November.
Nash said he decided it was time to move on after his request for a raise was turned down by the city council at the end of 2013.
“That night I walked into my momma’s house and said, ‘I declare and I decree that 2014 will not be like 2013,’” Nash said.
Nash said he has accepted a position as regional director for an undisclosed Arkansas company.
Nash defended his record over the past six years and said he never swayed from a commitment to the people of the town he has loved since his arrival at the age of 6.
“We moved forward while I stood up to a city council that violated your freedom of speech and your freedom to assemble, both of which are basic human rights afforded to all Americans,” Nash said.
“This city made advancements even when the city was basically shut down,” Nash said. “Without the approval to pay city employers, I went out and mowed the grass, cleaned the ditches, filled the pot holes, cleaned the bath rooms, mopped the floors and kept the city government properly functioning — all of this while being attacked in the street, unjustly locked in jail and dragged through court, all fueled by lies and deceit on the part of council members and their community friends.”
Nash said he fulfilled a promise made in 2011 to deal with more than $300,000 in payroll back taxes that he said went uncollected for more than a decade.
“In November 2011 we received the news that the federal payroll taxes were deemed noncollectable and forgiven, which meant the city could now begin to move forward,” Nash said.
Nash went on to list several more accomplishments.
“We have solved the drainage problem on the east side of town, which stopped the flooding of homes, and citizens no longer have to spend sleepless nights worrying or having to move when it rains,” Nash said. “We were successful in securing the donation of the old Simmons Bank building to the city — valued at an estimated $200,000 — to create a community resource center. We have replaced a 60-year-old aging and badly deteriorating sewer system at the price tag of over $800,000 at 100 percent no cost to the citizens of this city.
“Through all the injustice while trying to fulfill my dream and promise to return to Gould and work to improve it, I have kept the faith. I have been offered up by some while others stood with me. I have fought the good fight while having my hands cuffed and my rights taken.
“As I walk out the door and turn out the lights for the last time I don’t do so with tears. I do so with a smile on my face and with excitement for what the future holds on Monday morning.”
Alderman William Byers said he thought the mayor was doing the right thing.
“I thought his speech was eloquent and that he did what is best for him and for the city,” Byers said. “We have a council meeting set for next Monday. We’re going to have to appoint an interim mayor and set an election to elect a new mayor.”
Alderwoman Hazel Pruitt said that Nash was being dishonest in his words Thursday night.
“I heard a bunch of lies,” Pruitt said.
Pruitt said that, according to city law, in the event a mayor doesn’t finish his or her term, the city recorder-treasurer is to step in as acting mayor.
Kisha Bailey-James is currently the city’s recorder-treasurer.