Greenville Mayor Peter A. Candela’s either a squeaky wheel that council members have largely ignored or he’s a conspiracy theorist making much ado about nothing.
Candela quit the post Tuesday, accusing council members of operating against the will of the people and doing business “in a manner that at best … is very shady, underhanded, secretive and misleading to the Citizens of Greenville,” according to his resignation letter.
“To my way of thinking, it’s very poor representation,” Candela said Wednesday.
“I as Mayor am not empowered to recall these council members, nor to fire them,” Candela wrote in the letter. “Having said that, I no longer desire to have my good name to be associated with this council and tender my resignation as Mayor of Greenville effective immediately.”
As mayor, he was “ignored, kept out of the loop,” he said.
“I was only consulted when absolutely necessary.”
Under state law, boroughs have weak mayors whose powers are limited to breaking tie votes on council. They also administer public safety forces.
Otherwise, it’s a bully pulpit with little real power, something Candela said he understood going in, when he successfully opposed then-Mayor Dick Miller in 2009.
A Democratic operative for more than four decades, Miller was a polarizing figure in town who used the pulpit to preach but had trouble getting folks to view his opinions as gospel during his single term in office.
With Candela out, Miller said he’s considering applying for the job again.
“I have some unfinished business obviously. I just don’t know if it’s right for me,” Miller said.
Miller’s return would be welcomed by councilman Ted Jones, who said Miller’s criticisms of council were “well worth” it.
Since Candela took office in 2010, “he rubbed a lot of council people the wrong way,” Jones said.
“To me, his imagination worked overtime,” Jones said. “Thinking there were conspiracies and underhanded things … that was a figment of his imagination.”
But Candela said while council’s activities may not be illegal, they’re at least improper and lack transparency.
“This is the way I see it and interpret it,” he said.
“What’s happened is not illegal. It’s a gray area,” Candela said.
Council President Brian W. Shipley lost his seat in the November election, but after councilman Jasson Urey was hired as borough manager in December, Shipley was re-appointed to a seat in January and retained his position as council president – a turn of events that Candela said was in that “gray area” of being potentially improper.
“I’m deeply concerned that Brian Shipley is more or less running the show,” Candela said. “I’m concerned about the lack of transparency.”
Shipley called the accusations “utterly ridiculous” and insulting to a council that’s comprised of hard-working folks.
“I think gratuitous cheapshots and insults could have been left out,” Shipley said, adding there was nothing “nefarious” going on behind closed doors.
Although he gave up his seat as mayor, Candela said he’s not giving up on the town.
He moved to Greenville seven years ago because his mother has Mercer County roots, but he grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and moved to Greenville from Alabama.
At 63, he’s a retiree and has worked in varied professions in his working career.
“I’m most assuredly going to keep track of what’s going on,” he said.