Hopedale mayor resigns amid alleged conflict
By AMY GAREIS
News-Herald Staff Writer
HOPEDALE – Mayor Bill Decker has abruptly left his post, but not without some strong words for council members.
Decker submitted his resignation on Friday after 3 1/2 years in office. He was first appointed to the post following the departure of then-mayor Michael Pelegreen and won an election more than two years ago.
He initially based his exit on “reasons that I will not expound upon at this time”.
However, a memo obtained by the News-Herald included some scathing remarks aimed at the present panel. The letter indicates that Decker resigned for personal reasons in light of a conflict with council.
“It has become necessary because of the direction that council is taking in this village [that] I cannot condone,” it added. “Members of council [do] not believe that the state laws pertain to [them]. The members are more interested in their personal agendas than they are for the best interest of the village.”
When asked by this newspaper, Decker claimed the decisions being made set the community back rather than move it forward.
“This has been hard. I’ve been thinking about it for the last couple of months,” he said. “It’s very hard to do. [Council] wants to go back to 1975. The mayor has no vote on anything unless there’s a tie. I’ve fought it for 3 1/2 years and have health issues and stress. There’s a multitude of things, and I’m done. I’m done. I can’t condone their conduct now.”
The memo goes on to claim the council’s choices would cause “the same turmoil as in the past.” Among the panel’s most recent moves was to re-establish a board of public affairs in lieu of keeping a village administrator. The BPA was dissolved six years ago when the village hooked into the Jefferson County water system and would be up and running again in June. During the most recent council session, discussions weighed the pros and cons of having the board versus an administrator, but Decker was to name the new board in June. Meanwhile, it is the latest resignation Hopedale officials received since former administrator Walt Ziemba stepped down last fall.
“This village deserves a much better council than they have to live with today,” the memo concludes. “There are many, many fine families in this village. I can only apologize to those residents…and let them know that this decision did not come easy, as I feel I have let them down. This village has five of the finest employees a village could ever expect. I regret that I will not be able to finish the grants for paving and upgrades that I have been able to obtain, but I have truly enjoyed my time as mayor and will miss doing things for the welfare of its residents.”
Council President Larry Ward will likely helm the post until the November of 2011.