In the scriptures, the author of the book of Ecclesiastes, possibly the wise King Solomon, writes:
“To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted; … a time to break down and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together; … a time to get and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away; … a time to keep silence and a time to speak; … a time of war and a time of peace,” Ecc. 3:1-8.
This concept has been proven over and over, time and again. It is a cyclic truth which plays out before our very eyes each and every day: in our personal lives; our spiritual lives; our professional lives; our economic lives. We see it individually. As groups. As communities.
That same concept reaches throughout our society and even extends beyond our social circles to even include our government.
During its 131-year history the City of Williamson has undergone many such cycles. We and our ancestors have watched as what was once merely a corn field transform into our seat of government.
Williamson has experienced economic booms. The city has been hailed as “the Heart of the Billion Dollar Coalfields” only to dig itself out of near-depression conditions as the coal industry collapsed. Now, new life is coming on the wings of a tourism-based economy.
The City of Williamson has had prosperity washed away by sweeping floods and has had walls erected around it for protection against future devastating deluges. It has gone from a thriving, vibrant retail center to a collection of empty buildings. But once again, times are changing.
Various governmental administrations have risen and fallen. Some have left great legacies to the city; others not so much. Some have even been utter failures.
One such cycle began about six years ago. The city had been rocked by administrations that had left it sitting on shaky foundations. It was then that a new figure emerged on the city’s political scene – Charles Hatfield. He was from a well-known family. He was a successful entrepreneur, businessman and developer. He was eloquent. He exuded professionalism.
He was what Williamson needed and was elected the city’s mayor. He came into office with a litany of ideas from infrastructure updates to creating planning and zoning ordinances to downtown revitalization. He was the mayor the city needed. Hatfield donated personal funding to the city and countless hours of his own time to beautification projects. He renegotiated contracts with Veolia Water, allowing the city to keep its utilities management provider; oversaw the payment of tens of thousands of dollars owed to the power company; and has led the charge for the city to get its audit status current.
Even though his first administration ended with much internal strife, he was re-elected four years later by a vote margin so wide that many considered it an acclamation by the city’s voters.
However, that persona is now being chipped away by a series of dismal business ventures, questionable residency status, unpaid taxes, federal investigations, ligation and even a default judgment in federal court.
Most recently, Hatfield felt the blows hit even harder as his city council — in an action tantamount to a “no confidence vote” — stripped him of all financial and fiduciary powers. An action so specific and so overarching that the mayor cannot even buy a copy of the local newspapers or a cup of coffee on the city’s tab. His only power is that of being able to cast a vote in official city council meetings.
The discussion of this action was conducted in executive session — a closed-door meeting allowed by law to discuss certain protected matters. Because of this, we do not know what transpired prior to the resolution that was presented later in open council proceedings to take away his fiscal authority. However, we imagine that the councilmembers probably asked Hatfield for his resignation which he would not tender.
The Mingo Messenger firmly believes now is the time for Hatfield’s administration to come to an end. We call upon the mayor to submit his resignation to the Williamson City Council.
Mayor Hatfield is now, unfortunately, nothing more than an administrative figurehead. He does not even hold the authority to negotiate contracts. Potential new businesses, state and federal officeholders, and grant funders will not want to deal with a mayor who holds such infinitesimal powers. Without the mayor gathering his remaining dignity and stepping down from his position, the City of Williamson will be stagnant for the next two years.
Hatfield’s resignation would be the truest form of leadership he could give to the city that he professes to wholeheartedly love and wants to see succeed.
There is a time for everything under the sun. For Hatfield that time is now.