Simpsonville City Council votes to fire city administrator - FOX Carolina 21

Simpsonville City Council votes to fire city administrator

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Hawes' seat in the council chambers after the executive session. (Jan. 14, 2014/FOX Carolina) Hawes' seat in the council chambers after the executive session. (Jan. 14, 2014/FOX Carolina)
A large crowd gathered for the first Simpsonville City Council meeting with the new members. (Jan. 14, 2014/FOX Carolina) A large crowd gathered for the first Simpsonville City Council meeting with the new members. (Jan. 14, 2014/FOX Carolina)
SIMPSONVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

A shakeup in Simpsonville leaves the city administrator, Russell Hawes, out of a job.

Tuesday night the newly elected City Council voted to let Hawes go after years of service to the city.

The vote was split, four to three, and each side was passionate about whether they wanted Hawes to stay or go.

Three new council members were sworn in on Tuesday night, Elizabeth Braswell, Taylor Graham and Mayor Pro-Tem Cynthia Lockaby.

After the business of the meeting, the new council went into a closed executive session. The item on the agenda was a "personnel matter."

From 8 p.m. until 10 p.m., the council discussed behind closed doors before they emerged with a brief discussion. The new council members explained that they were voting to fire Hawes because their constituents wanted them to and that Hawes was a problem for Simpsonville.

Mayor Perry Eichor said that he didn't know the closed door session would be about Hawes, and he said he thinks the council made a bad decision for the city.

"On the first day of going into office, they take a decision without even knowing really what's going on," explained Eichor of the new members of his council.

He said their decision was political and he thinks it was made before they came to the meeting Tuesday.

"The man has done nothing wrong. OK, there are some people that don't like him, but he's provided good guidance," said Eichor.

Eichor said that Simpsonville is in the best place financially it's been in years and that much of the city's progress has come because of Hawes.

Former police chief Keith Grounsell and his supporters believe Hawes unrightfully fired him and that the city will be better off now.

Before the council returned for their vote, Grounsell said, "I know tonight they swore in the new council members and everybody's excited about the change, transparency [and] changes that are going to take place with the council."

Emotions ran high as the crowd who stayed through the vote filed out of City Hall.

The city council did not elaborate after their vote about who may serve as interim administrator or what comes next.

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