Thursday , May 23 2024

Sanger Mayor Resigns, Says ‘Time to Get Off Roller Coaster’

Sanger Mayor Joshua Mitchell announced his resignation Wednesday during a press conference, citing many reasons, including racism, harassment and conflict with the council.

Mitchell was elected mayor in 2010 and re-elected twice after.

"I’m sorry I come off as a quitter, but there’s nothing more I can do for the city," Mitchell said.

The breaking point,he said, came during a Dec. 12 special meeting called by the council majority to try to fire then-city manager Brian Haddix.

Mitchell has accused those council members of violating the Brown Act during that meeting.

More than 200 people showed up to support Haddix, who has since taken a city manager position in Chowchilla.

According to Mitchell, it’s been chaos on the council since.

"Ladies and gentleman, the circus has been in Sanger since December 12. And frankly, it’s time for the people to officially stand up, officially rise and officially organize to get this city back on track," Mitchell said.

But he said the chaos has now reached an unsafe level, having to moved his wife and kids out of Sanger because of repeated harrassment.

"We’ve had our tires slashed, my house has been vandalized several times, my office has been broken into several times, my house has been broken into once, I’ve had my campaign office this last go round burned down," Mitchell said.

According to Mitchell, he’s been investigated 19 times and all have gone away, but the allegations keep coming, he said, from Councilman Humberto Garza.

"[He said] that he had evidence that I was a child molestor, that I had stolen water from the city, that I was using fines out of city hall to fund my campaign efforts," Mitchell said.

Racial undertones also played a role. Mitchell held up a letter written by Garza.

"I’m being accused of hiring too many white people in this community."

It’s a political shakeup in Sanger that Mitchell hopes will motivate his constituents to force a change.

The California Fair Political Practices (FPPC) has an investigation open on Mitchell, looking into claims of conflict of interest related to Mitchell’s business and city work.

Mitchell addressed the investigation during the press conference, saying there was no conflict of interest and that the investigation would show that.

The communications director of the FPPC, Jay Wierenga, said he cannot comment on an open investigation.

Last year, the FPPC fined him $ 7,000 for failing to deposit eleven personal contributions, totaling $ 295.08, into the committee’s designated bank account before using those funds for campaign expenditures, and for failing to timely report 39 contributions, totaling $ 7,041.76.

We reached out to several council members for comment. Garza said over the phone he’d like to talk but was unavailable at the time, and did not return further messages. Councilman Eli Ontiveros said he was surprised by the decision, but did not want to comment further until he had more information.

Mitchell said two more department heads have let him know they also plan to resign as soon as they have other jobs lined up.

Joshua Mitchell’s live in-studio interview that aired on CBS 47 Eyewitness News at 7 can be found here: http://www.yourcentralvalley.com/story/d/story/extended-play-interview-with-joshua-mitchell/13602/i8EMWB8F_k6bJwzFNXgnHA

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