Conflict among town leaders in Chapin intensified Tuesday as Mayor Skip Wilson fired suspended Town Clerk Adrienne Thompson.
Other town leaders called it the latest example of a mayor overstepping his authority through court rulings that minimize challenges to his decisions.
In a letter to Thompson, Wilson said her performance was “less than acceptable.” He declined further comment when contacted Tuesday.
Firing Thompson – town clerk for 13 years – takes her off the payroll after a 10-week suspension from her $53,000-a-year post for what Wilson alleges is misuse of public money. It’s a charge that she and some Town Council members dispute.
State Law Enforcement Division agents are looking into Wilson’s claims of financial irregularities at the request of all town leaders.
Thompson’s dismissal is “a total shock,” Councilwoman Bibi Atkins said. “But nothing he (Wilson) does should surprise us.”
A majority of the five-member council at odds with Wilson contends hiring and firing the clerk is reserved to them, but he has refused to allow any discussion of that claim.
Thompson is suing Wilson for defamation.
Thompson’s attorney, Lewis Cromer, said the firing is part of Wilson’s effort to attain dominance of Town Hall.
“He’s ready to go to any extent to promote his agenda,” Cromer said. “This is part of that.”
Wilson is the first new mayor in 32 years in the Lexington County town of 1,700 residents.
Political foes are seeking to force a referendum that would weaken significantly his control on personnel, finances and agendas, turning over most power to council members who oppose him.
The persistent conflict is demoralizing, Atkins said.
“It’s hard not to give up,” she said. “But I can’t let him (Wilson) win.”
Reach Flach at (803)771-8483