Gautier's councilman at large quits over job issues

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - By Patrice Clark – bio | email

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Gautier's Councilman-At-Large is calling it quits.  Don Nash stepped down Wednesday saying his job at Camp Shelby conflicted with council meetings. His resignation comes at the same time he's facing criticism about whether he's really still living in the city.

Nash was elected to the post in 2009. Mayor Tommy Fortenberry said Nash sent an email Wednesday morning saying he was resigning from the job.

"It saddens me. I think Don served this community well. Like the rest of us, he worked hard to get elected," Fortenberry said about Nash's resignation.

In the email, Nash said he's quitting because his full time job was too demanding. Nash works at Campy Shelby helping get troops ready to deploy overseas.

"I know it was a very difficult decision for Mr. Nash to make."

The decision comes just as the city said it found out Nash was no longer a full-time Gautier resident. Fortenberry said Nash had been living part-time in Petal. The mayor also said Nash had a Forrest County car tag, which bothered Nash's constituents.

"I think that the person should be living in the area where he is representing," resident Robert Jennings said.

"He needs to know what's going on with the people and the businesses, and if he is splitting time between two places, he is not really in touch with what is going on," resident Debra Jennings said.

Fortenberry said Nash had recently asked the city to get an Attorney General's opinion on whether a government official could live in two places, and still represent the city.

"We did ask for an AG's opinion on that. Don went ahead, as I said, and I believe he did the right thing for the city and citizens of the City of Gautier."

The mayor said he doesn't believe Nash resigned because controversy over where he lives. Now, Fortenberry said the city will focus on filling the empty council seat. For that, a special election will be held, but no date has been set at this time.

"This is just another bump in the road, but we are on the right road."

WLOX called Don Nash to ask about his residency. He said he would not comment.

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