A member of the Smithfield Town Council was so frustrated at Mayor Andy Moore he walked out of the monthly town council meeting. The mayor chairs the city council meetings and handles the flow and order of the meeting.
The town board had just approved two items: the approval of a federal SAFER grant that will cover the majority of the costs of 3 new firefighter positions for 3 years. The grant will save a large sum of money for Smithfield taxpayers. The board also agreed to spend $10,500 to move the hiring date of the new firefighters from January 2018 to October 2017.
Councilman Travis Scott, who supported both projects and voted for their passage, asked Mayor Andy Moore for permission to make a comment before moving on to the next item on the agenda.
Mayor Moore declined saying he was moving on to the next item.
Councilman Scott immediately gathered his belongings and left his seat and the council chambers.
Scott spoke exclusively to WTSB Radio and JoCoReport.com about the incident.
“It is my goal to set a positive image for the town,” Councilman Scott said. “I wanted to thank the staff for saving $400,000. I wanted it known the whole point of pushing (the hiring) forward to October was because of a fire inspection in November. A one point reduction in the (fire) rating is an 8 percent reduction in commercial insurance rates.”
“He lets things get out of control at times,” Council Scott said of Mayor Moore, “but I don’t know why he shut me down.”
“It offended me. I respect the mayor but it is important to let council members speak.”
Scott said he recused himself from the meeting and so far hasn’t spoken with Mayor Moore about the incident.
WTSB News contacted Mayor Moore by email. “It is not that I didn’t allow Councilman Scott to speak, I just asked him if he would hold his additional comments until the Council Comments section of the agenda, as we had a lengthy agenda, and I was trying to get through the remaining business items. I was simply just trying to keep the meeting moving as quickly and efficiently as possible, and I just thought this was the best course. The SAFER grant had already been discussed and voted on, and as part of the procedure, all Council members had due time to debate the issue, provide details, as well as, provide personal commentary.”
“I have not had the opportunity to speak to Travis as of yet, as he left the meeting early. I was told that he had duty with the County EMS that night, but I am not sure if this is the reason that he left the meeting before it ended… I hope that I did not offend him. If I did, it was not intentional, and I certainly will apologize.”
Mayor Moore and Councilman Scott are both seeking reelection this November. Both are unopposed.