The City Commission broke with what one member called "tradition" Thursday, electing Tracey Turner Thurman as its new mayor pro tem.
Thurman replaces Lynn Bowers - the commission's prior pro tem - this time, despite the results of the November election which turned up Bowers as the top vote-getter. The commission voted 3 to 1 to elect Thurman in the absence of longtime commissioner Bob Roach, who was out of town.
City ordinances do not stipulate the position go to the top vote-getter. However, Bowers, who earned 4,615 votes in the November election, contended voting otherwise would be a "slap in the face to the public."
Thurman, who came in second in the November election with 4,493 votes, said the commission didn't have to grant the position to the person who finishes first. She maintained it is a leadership position. She then criticized Bowers for either leaving or not attending four closed sessions over the summer.
Bowers, whose motion to nominate herself was shot down 2-1 when Mayor Bill May abstained from the vote, said the move was a break with "tradition." She subsequently voted against Thurman, who left the meeting following the pro tem vote for work-related reasons. Her husband, Garnett, followed suit, giving the audience a wave as he exited the room.
"What you're doing is disrespectful to the public by disrespecting their choice," said Bowers, explaining why she voted against Thurman. "The public voted Nov. 7."
For more on this story, see today's State Journal.