A day after a petition began circling social media asking for his impeachment, Brett Dungan announced his resignation as the mayor of Bayou la Batre, citing the growing healthcare needs of his father in Colorado.
Around 6 p.m., Dungan sent an email to members of the local media containing a letter to the members of the Bayou La Batre City Council explaining his reasons for leaving the position he’s held for 23 months.
“Many of you are aware that [his wife] Linda and I made an unscheduled trip to Colorado on Saturday, July 18, to check on the health of my father, who is 90 years old and suffers from cardiopulmonary issues,” Dungan wrote. “I am not certain what the next few weeks and months will bring, but it has become obvious in the past few days that I will need to spend more time with my family than previously anticipated.”
In the letter, Dungan mentions that he is currently in Colorado and adds a return date is “impossible to anticipate.”
Barely mentioned in the letter is the ongoing political feud in Bayou La Batre that has seemed to pit Dungan against the majority of the City Council in recent months.
Since March, Dungan has sued four of the sitting council members and was arrested and convicted of harassing Councilwoman Annette Johnson. However, Dungan is still in the process of appealing that conviction.
His attorney, Michael Hickman, says there are no plans to drop the appeal. An arraignment on those charges is scheduled next month in Mobile County Circuit Court, where a retrial date is expected to be finalized.
However, Dungan did say in his resignation letter that he would be instructing Hickman to “drop the lawsuit against four members of the council,” which was filed after several on the council voted to terminate the contracts of the city’s former attorney, Bill Wasden, and Dungan’s former assistant, Wanda Overstreet.
“It is my desire that the city be able to move forward without this distraction,” Dungan wrote of dismissing the lawsuit.
Dungan was elected in 2013 during a special election to replace former Mayor Stan Wright, who was removed from office after being convicted of multiple federal corruption charges. In his letter, Dungan called it a pleasure to have served the citizens of Bayou La Batre.
“Linda and I have been in the Bayou La Batre community for over 40 years,” he wrote. “We raised our children here and we grew to deeply appreciate the heritage, the culture and the people of the Bayou. We wish the community the very best going forward, and we ask for your continued thoughts and prayers as we face the future.”
Dungan’s resignation took effect at 5 p.m. July 27.
After the news became public, Johnson said she was hopeful the council could work together to fill the vacancy without holding a special election. Johnson said Bayou La Batre, which has struggled financially since December, “can’t afford another election” this year and during the 2016 general elections.
“I think it’s going to work out, I will be supportive of whatever they come up with,” Johnson said. “We don’t want to have to get the governor involved, and I think we could make the appointment within our own council or if that doesn’t work out, somebody within the community.”
According to Ken Smith of the Alabama League of Municipalities, the council will have 60 days to appoint a new mayor, and can make that appointment from within the council or otherwise.
If they’re unable to reach a consensus, as was the case during the search for Stan Wright’s replacement, Gov. Robert Bentley has the option to make an appointment. If Bentley declines, the law calls for a special election to held no more than 90 days from the date Dungan’s resignation was accepted.
In the meantime, Council President Johnson will assume Dungan’s duties and responsibilities in accordance with state law. The council is working to organize a special meeting to accept Dungan’s resignation, but so far, an official time has not been scheduled.