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James Jackson resigns
Former Wetumka City Council members James and Rebecca Jackson filed a letter of resignation at the Hughest County Courthouse at 1:28 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. (NonDoc)

HOLDENVILLE — Controversial Wetumka City Council members James Jackson and Rebecca Jackson filed an official letter of resignation at the Hughes County Courthouse stamped at 1:28 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31. Councilman Randy Hinkley submitted his own letter of resignation at 12:02 p.m.

The Jacksons’ letter noted that the resignation of three-fifths of the Wetumka council will compel the remaining two members, Norma Marshall and June Fixico, to call a special election to fill the three vacant seats.

The resignations came after a heated council meeting Friday morning that featured jeers from the crowd aimed at James Jackson, a retired U.S. Army intelligence officer who moved to the 1,200-person community about three years ago and functionally took over its governance as mayor and chairman of the utility authority.

“Everybody has got their decisions to make,” Jackson said after Friday’s meeting. “But for one reason or another, they don’t trust what we are saying about not having enough money in the budget every month religiously.”

After Friday’s meeting, several members of the town did not believe the Jacksons would follow through on their pledge to resign.

“I don’t care if they believe it or not. I’m not here to appease people,” Jackson said at the time. “I told them I’m not a politician. I don’t kiss babies or kiss butt. I came in here as a businessman to fix their stuff.”

‘Wetumka did it before y’all came’

The Jacksons and Hinkley were all elected with more than 60 percent of the vote in April 2019, but a series of contentious council meetings ultimately ended in their resignations.

“It’s going to be a fight every stinking month about this same agenda — getting rid of the police department and everything else,” Hinkley said after the council returned from a 45-minute executive session Friday morning. “This town doesn’t want Rebecca and James here. The only way they’ve said they will step down and get out of here is if I go too and get off the board, and if that’s what you all want, I’m out of here.”

A woman in the City Hall chambers yelled, “Do it!”

Councilwoman Norma Marshall, who started the meeting by accusing James Jackson of stalking her, raised her hand, looked at the mayor and pointed triumphantly.

“Wetumka did it before y’all came, and we’ll do it again,” she said.

Hinkley was asked what he wanted to do.

“I want to go. I’m tired of this,” he said. “It’s like a bunch of children fighting over the same stinking toy, and I’m done. I’m done.”

‘Hopefully we can now move forward’

Donna Dyer, CEO of the East Central Oklahoma Family Health Center, said news of the official resignations left her “relieved.”

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity for Wetumka to move beyond this and to continue to work to repair the damaged relationships that need to be fixed,” Dyer said.

Dyer said she looked forward to her hometown refocusing on what she considers its values: faith, friendship and family.

“It has been very difficult. It has been hard to watch what has happened within the community and watch the morale go down. Hopefully we can now move forward to bring us back to our community values that we’ve always held firm to.”

Dyer said Wetumka has serious issues to attend to, including the lagoon concerns raised by Jackson, city finances, a pending state audit and “seeing what has and has not been paid.”

“My big concern right now is that since there’s not a quorum no business of the city can move forward until the special election,” Dyer said. “My thoughts are we need to move the special election along as quickly as possible.

During Friday’s council meeting, James Jackson estimated the cost of a special election to be about $6,000.

Resignation letter from James and Rebecca Jackson

James Jackson, Rebecca Jackson, resignation
(NonDoc)
Randy Hinkley resignation
(NonDoc)
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William W. Savage III (Tres) holds a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma. He covered two sessions of the Oklahoma Legislature for eCapitol.net before working in health care for six years. He is a nationally certified Mental Health First Aid instructor.