The abrupt departure of Gerald Foreman II as Dumfries mayor blindsided town leaders, who found his resignation letter awaiting them at the council meeting April 2, but him a no-show.
The mayor announced his resignation a day after Dumfries voters elected Councilman Derrick Wood to replace him, after Foreman decided earlier this year not to run again. Foreman had endorsed Wood’s opponent, Vice Mayor Cliff Brewer.
Now Brewer has taken the helm as interim mayor through the end of June and he will need to shepherd the budget process for the next fiscal year. Wood does not take the oath as mayor until July 1. Council members voted at the meeting to transfer mayoral powers to Brewer until then.
Wood – who took more than 73 percent of the vote in an election that also chose three council members – expressed shock at Foreman’s quitting.
“I definitely did not see this coming,” he said. “We might have had differences ... but we accomplished a lot together in the last six years. I was looking forward to a smooth transition, like the passage of the baton. Now he’s left that responsibility, it seems like, to the vice mayor.”
Wood said it was most surprising that council only officially learned of the development by a letter Foreman left on the dais, rather than announcing it in person. “No face-to-face interaction, that’s what makes this even more of a shock.”
Foreman could not be reached for comment, but in his resignation letter, he cited Brewer’s ability to handle the mayoral duties over the next two months.
Foreman and his family had discussed the decision when he announced he would not seek re-election, according to the letter. “There is no reason to reside as Mayor though June 2018,” he wrote. “The current Vice-Mayor is more than capable of presiding over a handful of council meetings.”
Foreman said he stands “ready to assist” Wood if requested and that the incoming mayor should lead the fiscal 2019 budget talks.
Brewer said he wasn’t sure why Foreman resigned and had not spoken to him about it, though it was surprising. “I don’t give a lot of thought to things people do. They have their own personal reasons for it; I don’t try to analyze.”
“He had assured me and the incoming mayor … that he would be there for a smooth transition,” Brewer added. “I guess he changed his mind or whatever. We just have to pick up and move on. If it’s broke, let’s fix it.”
Wood said he’s had “no time to digest” the outgoing mayor’s resignation and that he wants to focus on the budget discussions and his priorities for infrastructure and public safety. “My focus is on Dumfries and the people.”