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Pratt council members ready to remove mayor

CHARLESTON, W.Va.-- At least two members of Pratt Town Council are ready to start proceedings to remove Mayor Gary Fields from office.

"We're really just fed up with this situation," said Councilwoman Kaye Ford. "We just want our town back. We want it to be just like it used to be."

Councilwoman Charlotte Calhoun said citizens are fed up with legal troubles involving the mayor and his wife, Norma Fields.

Gary Fields was arrested for simple drug possession in August, after police allegedly found painkillers that the mayor did not have a prescription for. Norma Fields was arrested last week for allegedly violating a personal safety order taken out by Town Clerk Kathy Fisher.

Council members asked the mayor to resign earlier this month, but he declined, promising to get his personal life in order. "If something would come up down the road, I will automatically resign rather than embarrass this town," Fields said at the time.

But Calhoun said townspeople may be tired of waiting. She said citizens come up to her every day and ask that something be done about the Fields family and their legal troubles.

"The mayor's personal life has brought great anguish on the town of Pratt that they don't deserve," Calhoun said.

Under state law, members of town council can submit a petition to Kanawha Circuit Court asking that the mayor be removed from office. Removal proceedings can also be started with a petition signed by 25 townspeople or 1 percent of registered voters, whichever number is smaller.

In Pratt, where there are 603 registered voters, a petition signed by six or seven residents would be enough to start removal proceedings.

Once a petition is filed, the chief circuit judge turns the petition over to the state Supreme Court, which appoints a special three-judge panel to decide whether or not the mayor should be removed. Members of Dunbar City Council used a similar procedure to remove former mayor Roger Wolfe from office in 2008.

Both Calhoun and Ford said they are ready to start removal proceedings against the mayor. A removal petition is expected to be discussed at a town council meeting on Nov. 12.

Mayor Fields said Tuesday that no one has talked to him about a petition to remove him from office. But he said he was thinking about resigning at the end of the year. Re-elected in June, Fields is less than a year into his third two-year term.

Both Norma and Gary Fields have faced charges before. In 1992, when Fields was charged with driving under the influence, he faced a petition for his removal as mayor.

Norma Fields was arrested and charged with domestic battery in 2011, after she allegedly swung a metal cane at her husband outside their home.

Twelve criminal complaints have been filed against Norma and Gary Fields by neighbors. All of them have been dismissed.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.

 


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