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Fitzgerald ‘too busy’ to serve?

The Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen carries a heavy load. Beyond the monthly public meetings, the BMA members also serve on a variety of committees that work to ensure various town entities are successful and running smoothly.
Alderman Mary Gearhart serves on the Senior Center and the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center committees.
Alderman Terry Countermine works with the Flag Committee, the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre Committee, the Tree and Townscape Committee and the Jonesborough Planning Commission.
Alderman Chuck Vest serves with Countermine on the Jonesborough Planning Commission and also sits on the Recreation Committee.
Mayor Kelly Wolfe is part of the Traffic Committee and also serves on the Washington County Economic Development Board.
And then there’s Alderman Jerome Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald has been an alderman since 1996. Yet, during those 14 years, there is no record of him serving on any committee except the recreation committee shortly after being elected in 1996.
He used his experience and knowledge of the wastewater treatment system as the centerpiece of his most recent campaign platform, saying at the Herald & Tribune Candidates’ Forum in 2008 that he was “well-grounded” in sewer issues, had worked in the town’s water and sewer operations and would use his experience to help solve the problem.
However, once re-elected and subsequently appointed to the sewer task force, Fitzgerald resigned, with no explanation, after attending only one meeting. Gearhart was called upon to fill the vacancy on the task force.
In 2006, the Herald & Tribune discovered that Alderman Fitzgerald had been absent from over one-third of the BMA meetings. Immediately after that story ran, his attendance improved dramatically for a time. This year, out of five meetings, Fitzgerald has attended four. He was also the only alderman absent from the daylong BMA retreat held earlier this spring.
Most recently, Fitzgerald was asked to serve on the prestigious cultural arts center liaison committee. But once again he refused, saying that he “has too much going on already.”
If Fitzgerald truly is too busy to serve his community, we sincerely hope he considers this fact when the time comes for him to decide whether or not to run for reelection.