Updated: Wednesday, 12 Aug 2009, 2:34 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 11 Aug 2009, 1:58 PM EDT
PORTSMOUTH, Va. - At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Mayor Holley told reporters he would not resign. Council voted 6-1, asking him to retire.
"With appreciation for his commitment to our progress but mindful of our obligations to carry this city forward I respectfully move that the mayor announce and council accept his retirement from service to the city effective immediately," Vice Mayor Bill Moody, Jr. read from a written statement.
Holley was the only member of the elected body to vote against the motion. The majority vote is not enough to remove the mayor. Moody said it is a "strong statement."
The Mayor told WAVY.com before the meeting that one council member asked him to resign during a closed door executive session.
Mayor Holley started the meeting saying the session is just like every other. He thanked everyone for being present and he said he wanted to take a few minutes to address the "distraction."
He told those present that the public elected him as mayor and if he leaves it is because his voters want him out. He added there are procedures that need to be followed in order for him to be removed from office, but, he said, "I'm telling you that you put me here, and when I leave from here, you will take me from here. And it will not be from a resignation."
Later in his speech he said it was "probably a bad, bad decision that I made. But I've been forgiven before so, I look forward to your forgiveness again."
During the meeting, the mayor never mentioned his assistant or tasks he asked her to perform.
Earlier on Tuesday, Councilwoman Elizabeth Psimas was the first council member to come forward and publicly state that she believes it is time for Portsmouth Mayor James Holley to resign from office.
Psimas told WAVY.com, "It's just time. There are an awful lot of folks who would like to see him resign."
She said the 82-year-old mayor "has given so much good service to this community and I hate to see him go out in this way, but I sure don't want to see this city go through a recall. That is a terrible drama, terrible black eye on the city and I would hate to see that happen, again."
Mayor Holley has been recalled from office before. In 1987, he became the first mayor in the commonwealth to be removed from office after he was said to take part in a hate mail campaign.
The Mayor faces a formal reprimand and $2,500.00 fine from city council for allegedly forcing his secretary to handle all of his personal chores and being "verbally abusive" to her if she failed.
"You really can't behave this way, this is 2009," said Psimas. "You don't ask administrative assistants to do these kinds of tasks and you certainly don't treat people this way."
Some citizens agree with Councilwoman Psimas and are now circulating a petition asking for Holley to step down. It is not a formal recall petition, therefore it carries no legal power. It is instead a polite request to the mayor to willingly leave office.
The secretary, Lorraine Stokes, who filed a formal complaint last week claims Mayor Holley regularly required her to handle his personal chores, like ordering his cologne, cancelling his Playboy subscription and looking online for a Taser gun to deal with the geese in his backyard. The secretary says the mayor was often demeaning to her when she failed to finish his chores, calling her a "nobody" and threatening to have her fired.
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