HIGH Point, N.C. -- Four members of the High Point City Council are calling for Mayor Bernita Sims to step down. They argue Sims' personal financial problems are interfering with her ability to lead.
Council members Jim Davis, Judy Mendenhall, Jason Ewing and Becky Smothers wrote separate letters to the editor of The High Point Enterprise last week. Mayor Sims also wrote a letter to the editor in response to the calls for her resignation.
The council members say Sims' financial troubles have cast a negative light on the city and the council. Earlier this year, the State Bureau of Investigation investigated Sims for writing a $7,000 bad check to a family member. The Attorney General's Office is still determining whether to file felony charges. In addition, The High Point Enterprise reports Sims owes more than $5,500 for overdue state income taxes. The mayor also faced criticism for a delinquent utility bill, which she has since paid.
WFMY News 2 reached out to Mayor Sims on Saturday. She confirmed she wrote this Letter to the Editor in The High Point Enterprise:
To the citizens of High Point:
I have read the letters forwarded to the Enterprise regarding my service on this council and the recommendation and request from several Council members to resign as Mayor of this city. On Nov. 6, 2012, I was elected to the position of mayor of the City of High Point by 33 percent of the voters in a general election. Voters, who cast their votes for me, knew of my service to this community for the past 10 years and had confidence in my ability to lead this city.
I understand the need to bow to pressure from your constituents regarding an issue because I have been there. I also understand that my fellow council members are looking forward to 2014 and the municipal elections. As council member Smothers has said in her communiqué, council does not have the authority to unseat me from my elected position.
While Smothers expresses disappointment concerning what she and others believe will be my legacy, she nor the other members of council will define what my legacy will be. I have no intentions of vacating my office as mayor based on letters from High Point City Council members or motions to step down.
There have been few conversations between myself and the council regarding any of the issues that have been played out in the media. My personal life is my personal life. I have consistently since taking the oath of office performed the duties of this office in a manner that is consistent with my peers.
I will continue to fulfill my obligations to this community regardless of the feelings of my fellow council members. Until we can have honest dialogue and discourse regarding our community and the machinations that have ensued, I see no need to bow to the pressure of fellow elected officials concerning this matter.
I have been advised by many to stay the course. This is my intention. As a true believer in the word of Jesus Christ, these adversities that I face will only make me stronger. There will be glory after this.
Mayor Bernita Sims
Mayor Sims also told WFMY News 2, "There has always been dissatisfaction with my win. At this point, it's gone beyond what I expect from people interested in what's best for the city."
Councilman Jason Ewing spoke with WFMY News 2 Saturday evening about the controversy. Ewing said he spoke to Sims before he submitted his letter. He said he is unsure if Sims will resign.
Davis and Mendenhall have also called for Councilman Foster Douglas to resign because of his own financial issues. WFMY News 2 reported Douglas has owed $32,000 to the city of High Point for a decade.
In a letter to the High Point Enterprise, council member Smothers said she, "planned to make a motion asking Bernita Sims to resign." On Monday, Smothers told WFMY News 2 she has since changed her mind and no longer plans to file a motion. Smothers said the motion is unnecessary now because the public now knows where the four council members stand. Smothers said the entire point of the motion was to let the public know some council members were aware of some citizens' dissatisfaction with Mayor Sims.
Read: Smothers' Letter To High Point Enterprise
High Point Enterprise/WFMY News 2