Beckley Common Council expected to ask Mayor to step down - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

UPDATED: Heated meeting battle of Beckley leadership

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59 News attended the Beckley Common Council meeting and while there was a lot to talk about there was little action taken.

It was heated and passionate. Dozens attended the common council meeting, wanting answers. Council members had the opportunity to speak about what should be done?

A Mayor admits no guilty. But is punished by the Ethics Commission, the question is posed does the council have an obligation to take action?? According to Councilman Ron Booker, yes, but to councilwoman Ann Worley and Tom Sopher, no.

But for others like Chris Hall, a further investigation is needed. But that would mean City Council would have to shell out city money to pay for outside council.

While many disagreed on the course of action the council should take most of the folks 59 News spoke with walked away from the meeting, feeling uncertain about what the future will hold for the city.

After the Mayor of Beckley announced his retirement last week following an ethics investigation, some council members said they do not think he should serve for the next six months.

Several Beckley Common Council members told 59News they expect to ask Mayor Emmett Pugh to step down and not fulfill the remainder of his term at the Common Council meeting on Tuesday night.

The Mayor announced he will be retiring at the end of 2013. He said this is not a part of the reconciliation agreement he signed to end an ethics investigation. Mayor Pugh said the reason he will remain in office for the next six months is that he would like to see unfinished projects through, like the Beckley Intermodal Gateway.

"It's sending a very difficult message to the citizens to say that in the future he can't run for any public office but it's okay for him to run the city at this juncture," said Councilman Chris Hall.

But City Attorney Bill File said the common council may ask the mayor to step down early, but he is under no obligation to comply and they have no legal authority to force him out.

Some council members are not at peace with the ethics investigation.

Councilman-at-large Cedric Robertson has added a "discussion of ethics resolution" to Tuesday's agenda.

"Council has to express duty to bring charges or we would be operating outside the confines of the city charter. If this evidence is not enough for my fellow council members to find the mayor has acted contrary to the laws of our city, I do not know what will."

Others said they think council still has more to do in terms of the ethics investigation.

"We all have responsibilities that the voters count on us to fulfill so I think were going to have to look at that too to make sure were doing our job in representing the citizens," said Councilman-at-large Tim Berry.

There are a few council members that think they need the next 6 months to agree on what's best for the city.

"I want us to come together and make a decision together. I would hate for the council to be divided on who is the mayor because in that respect none of us get anything done," said Councilman Tom Sopher.

The Beckley Common Council was set to appoint a mayor to serve the remainder of Pugh's term on Jan. 1, 2014.  The Common Council meeting will start at 7:30 p.m.  Stick with 59News for the latest on this story all day.