Ruston’s newest mayor is no stranger to the town’s political scene.
Two days after Michael Transue resigned, the town council appointed Bob Everding, a retired college dean who had served on the council until January.
The five-member council needed less than 20 minutes of a special session Wednesday to appoint Everding, who was elected to the council in 2005 but resigned with two years left on his term.
"I worked with him for two years, and he did an awesome job as a councilmember," said Councilman Wayne Stebner. "And there’s no question he’ll do an awesome job as a mayor."
Everding declined to talk with a reporter from The News Tribune, saying he wanted time for everything to sink in before commenting publicly.
Everding resigned his council seat on Jan. 19, saying he was frustrated with infighting between the council and the mayor’s office.
"A hostile environment permeates town meetings as a small minority (mostly those who lost the last two elections) are allowed to disrupt meetings with angry tirades and threats," Everding wrote in his resignation letter, which also criticized Transue for failure to seek compromise.
When Stebner made the motion to place Everding in the mayor’s chair, talk filled the chambers inside Ruston’s old school building. Councilman Jim Hedrick, who was serving as mayor pro tempore, gaveled the crowd down.
The motion passed 5-0. No public comment was heard, and Everding rose from his chair in the audience, took the oath of office and conducted the rest of the special session. Before the council appointed Everding, Councilman Bradley Huson delivered a rebuttal of Transue’s resignation letter.
In the stinging critique of the former mayor’s performance, Huson slammed Transue for spending more than the town’s budget allowed, hiring consultants to try to solve the town’s issues and for the recent spate of council resignations. Four members have resigned since late 2007, including two with two years remaining in their term.
"I, for one, am thrilled that Mr. Transue has resigned, so that the united council can move forward without fear of being ignored and undermined," he said. "I hope the citizens will be patient over the next few weeks, while we clean up the mess that Mr. Transue has left us. "And unlike the former mayor, I think that you will find it won’t take much time to get our arms around the situation."