Ferriday Police Chief Arthur Lewis, who is running for the police chief’s post in Vidalia, told the board of aldermen Tuesday night he is not resigning.
Mayor Sherrie McMahon had asked for his resignation on Monday.
Aldermen backed Lewis, who warned that if forced to resign he would “make the town liable.”
McMahon presented Lewis a copy of the Town of Ferriday policy and procedure concerning such a situation, "Partisan political activity by an employee while at work, including publicly or privately, advocating or lobbying passage or defeat of any matter before the municipality is prohibited … No employee shall participate in any activity which would substantially compromise the ability of the employee to discharge with neutrality, efficiency, ad integrity his duties and obligations to the municipality."
Lewis told the board he met with the mayor on Monday and at that time she asked for his resignation.
"I am not turning in my resignation," Lewis said. "I did not see it in the statutes and no employee has ever had to do this. I want to know why several other employees of the town have been allowed to run for office.
“I'm running for office in Vidalia, not Ferriday. It will not be a hardship on Ferriday. I'm just wondering why there is a double standard. This is not a threat, but if I am terminated I will make the town liable."
Lewis filed a lawsuit in November of 2017 in Seventh Judicial District Court against McMahon and the town after McMahon suspended him in December 2016 for 30 days, followed two more 30-day suspensions in January and February.
McMahon asked for Lewis to be terminated, but the board voted against that move.
The lawsuit was settled out of court and Lewis was paid for the six weeks of work he missed.
McMahon appointed Lewis as police chief on July 1, 2016 after defeating incumbent mayor Gene Allen in the 2016 mayoral election.
Members of the Ferriday board sided with Lewis on his reasoning that no other employee has had to resign when running for a local office, noting that Ferriday policeman Robert “Rock” Davis ran for Sheriff last year.
"This is not fair at all," said Ferriday alderwoman Gloria Lloyd. "You (McMahon) let others run and he can't? We're getting into a real problem. You can't put this on the board. You have allowed this to happen. You can't do this because someone you don't like is running elsewhere. I would not turn in my resignation.”
"Fire me," Lewis said from the audience.
"You are not getting fired," Lloyd answered.
"I just want to know what to do," Lewis said.
Alderman Glen Henderson said he knows of two employees in the last two years who have run for other offices and not had to resign.
"You (McMahon) set the standard for policy and procedures and you are not following it," Henderson said.
"And he is not running for an office for the Town of Ferriday," alderwoman Gail Pryor added.
Pryor asked what needed to be done since Lewis did not offer his resignation.
"That was more a point of information," McMahon said.
In other action, the board approved a resolution to adopt a cross connection policy, which is required by the state.
Matt Parker of JCP advised the board last year that there is a resolution by the state equipping certain residents and commercial businesses to have a cross connection to prevent back flow into the town water system.
The residents needing cross connection would be those with pools, horse troughs, etc., so that water would not go back into the town's water.
Parker said the customer would purchase these.
Parker said JCP will send out flyers to find out who needs to purchase the cross connection.
"They will have to fill them out for us," Parker said. "Then we will have to go around and make sure we haven't missed anyone."
The board also discussed its contract with Waste Pro, which ends in March.
"I've been getting a number of complaints about Waste Pro," McMahon said.
The board asked for a representative to be at the next meeting and also asked for bid requests from other sanitation companies.
Lloyd also asked about trash being dumped outside the fence of Kyle Road Apartments.
The board agreed to put up No Dumping signs at the site.
The board also discussed Roses, a company that was given an occupational license as a convenience store, but has now become a nightclub.
Alderman Andre Keys asked to have their license removed.
The board agreed to allow attorney Myisha Davis to send a letter to the owner.
Clint Vegas also advised the board he has talked to Entergy about new street lights.
"You can get some like what Vidalia has for $300 a month," Vegas said, adding he has another meeting set up with an Entergy representative.
Vegas also said he is pursuing purchasing three police cars for the town.