Springfield mayor abruptly resigns, effective now
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Springfield’s mayor has stepped down, saying business and family pressures prevented him from “fulfilling the job as it should be fulfilled.”
Jim O’Neal, a father of four and owner of O & S Trucking, made the announcement Monday after a long and contentious City Council meeting, where amendments to the city’s smoking ban were approved. Reading from a statement, O’Neal said he had “fallen short.”
“I have an extreme amount of financial and business pressure, as well as some family pressure, and I . can no longer serve as mayor for this community, and it is really with a deep and broken heart that I say I’ve got to resign as mayor, effective immediately,” said O’Neal, who was elected in 2009 and re-elected to a two-year term in April 2011.
Mayor Pro Tem Bob Stephens was being sworn in as O’Neal’s replacement Tuesday. The council will begin the process of electing a new mayor pro tem and appointing someone to fill the rest of Stephens’ term as council member.
Stephens said O’Neal had talked to council members about his concerns, but he did not specifically mention resigning.
Stephens credited O’Neal for helping turnaround the city’s faltering finances.
“The city was approaching bankruptcy if we didn’t get something done about it,” Stephens said.
In Springfield, the major is elected by residents and is also a voting city council member. But much of the day-to-day business is conducted by the city manager. The mayor receives a monthly salary of $200.