STONECREST, Ga. - City of Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary offered an apology for speaking tersely to council members during an online virtual retreat during the last weekend of February. He was clearly irritated the five-member council had not yet selected one of the four people he nominated as Acting City Manager. When it became clear his pointed remarks offended some on the council Sunday, he offered this explanation during the meeting that's now posted on the city's YouTube page.
"When I say, 'You better pick somebody,' I mean that with a sense of urgency, not out of disrespect," Lary told the council. "I have a different sense of urgency than you all because something might happen to me," he added.
Afterward, Mayor Lary issued a public statement saying he's facing what could be his third battle with cancer and explained he needs to take some time to work with doctors and care for himself.
"I came back too early from my second round with cancer. I should've stayed out for several months, but circumstances prevailed where I needed to come back earlier," Lary said a day after the retreat. He said he had cancer surgery in late December. He declined to say what type of cancer he is battling but said it seems to be resurfacing for a third time.
He said he needs to take some extended time off to focus on his health, but he said he cannot go on leave until the council appoints one of his nominees for Acting City Manager.
"Quite frankly, Ms. Bruner, it's an issue of control," said Lary, who was instrumental in the push for creating a city of Stonecrest three years ago. He was subsequently elected as the city's first mayor. "If they don't pick an acting city manager, I still have to stay in place because I can't leave the city unattended."
Councilman George Turner is also Mayor Pro Tem of Stonecrest. He said the City Manager position has been vacant for a year and insists that's a totally separate issue from the mayor's ability to take a leave of absence. Turner said the city charter allows for him to serve as mayor is the current mayor is incapacitated for any variety of reasons.
That is my function and I have done it before and I am ready and willing to do it again. The city may not be run exactly the way he wants, but it will be run efficiently and appropriately," said Councilman Turner. "The most important thing is his health," who said the four candidates Lary presented do not have enough experience to serve as City Manager.
But Mayor Lary insists it's important to have a city manager in place. He said he regrets the tone he used Sunday, but added he's only looking out for the best interest of the city.
"For me to feel comfortable and to get rest and healing, I need to know I have a person in place that's handling in day-to-day affairs," said the Mayor, who believes all four candidates are qualified for the appointment.
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