If passed, the measure would have allowed the council to vote on hiring a lawyer to file a motion asking a judge to determine where the mayor’s legal residence is in Weaver, as he says or in Anniston, as some state.
If Bearden were deemed a non-resident of Weaver, state law would prohibit him from acting as mayor.
Council member Jeff Clendenning attempted to add the measure to the agenda for the Tuesday meeting. His motion didn’t pass, though three of the six council members supported it. Bearden, who votes as a member, and Odis Pippin voted against it while Ellen Cole, who stepped up to replace Ray Thompson at the same meeting, abstained.
“Being my first council meeting, I thought it was the best thing to do,” Cole said.
Council members Sheila Field and Mike Warren voted with Clendenning in support of the measure.
“I think Jeff has the right to add anything to the agenda he wants and that’s why I voted for it,” Field said before saying she does not doubt the mayor lives in Weaver. “If he says he lives there, I believe it.”
The other member in favor of the vote, Warren, said he does doubt that the mayor lives in Weaver. He said he would like the issue to go before a judge so the council can move on.
“I think it’s a question of integrity,” he said. “Why would you say something that’s not true?”
The mayor says that he has several homes, but has declined to state which one he lives in. One of those homes, he said, is a farm within Anniston city limits and another is a Weaver residence that he has maintained since the 1970s.
The issue was first addressed at a July meeting by Bill Harvey, a Weaver resident.
The issue was voted on again at the Tuesday meeting after Clendenning questioned the results of the first vote, which Bearden said needed a two-thirds majority. Clendenning claimed that it only needed a simple majority of voting members to pass, meaning that the initial 3-2 vote, with one abstention, would have allowed the measure to pass.
The second vote yielded the same results, meaning the measure did not go forward as members stated that once an issue is voted on twice in the same meeting, it must actually receive the two-thirds vote.
“This is a place where we conduct city business and this is not city business,” Bearden said. “I’m not going to speak to it again.”
Contact staff writer Laura Johnson at 256-235-3544.