As the LaFollette City Council gathered on Jan. 18, interim city administrator Cade Sexton’s seat was noticeably vacant. Silence hung in the air as officials waited to begin the special called meeting. However, before the business of the meeting was attended to, Mayor Mike Stanfield read Sexton’s resignation letter.
“To the mayor and council of the city of LaFollette, please accept this letter of my intent to resign as interim city administrator, effective immediately,” Sexton wrote. “It has been my pleasure serving the needs of the city and its citizens and I wish nothing but the best for LaFollette.”
Sexton met with Stanfield before the meeting to hand in the resignation.
“I’d planned on retiring in January,” Sexton said Tuesday morning. “That was a foregone conclusion.”
However, Sexton’s resignation comes in the middle of an investigation into a wreck involving Sexton and city council member Hansford Hatmaker. The two were returning from a trip to Memphis on Jan. 4 when they were involved in a wreck. Hatmaker was driving Sexton’s 2002 Ford Explorer, which was registered to the city, when he wrecked into a Nissan that was pulled over by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, according to Dalya Qualls, from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. Nobody was injured, but Hatmaker was cited for failing to pull over, Qualls said. Sexton and Hatmaker spent $545.41 on a city credit card to tow the vehicle and rent a car to return to LaFollette, according to records from the city of LaFollette. Both Sexton and Hatmaker claimed to have been on official city business at the time of the accident. The business involved working with the Tennessee Department of Correction to establish a halfway house in LaFollette, Sexton said. However, TDOC officials were unable to confirm this.
“With all this controversy going on, I felt like this would be an appropriate time to retire, so I resigned,” Sexton said.
Sexton receives retirement from the state, and can only work 960 hours a year, he said. He didn’t want to begin a second year.
“I’ve enjoyed my experience,” Sexton said. “I wish the city well. I feel like the city is making progress. We have really good department heads.”
LaFollette Police Chief Jimmie Jeffries is in charge of investigating events surrounding the wreck, Stanfield said.
During the next workshop, the city council could discuss looking for a new city administrator, Stanfield said. Whether a full-time or part-time city administrator is chosen to replace Sexton is up to the city council, Stanfield said. The city council approved allocating $70,000 for hiring a full-time city administrator when it passed the 2012-13 budget, LaFollette Finance Director Terry Sweat said. However, the city council can set a city administrator’s salary according to its discretion.
“They usually try to stay within budget,” Sweat said.