Grundy County Commission Chairman Earl Geary Jr. announced he is resigning from the government panel, and his last meeting will come on Monday night.
County Mayor Lonnie Cleek said Friday that the Thursday night announcement took him by surprise.
"He kind of set me back on my heels. That's the second commissioner I've had to take a resignation from since I've been in office," Cleek said, referring to Grundy County Commission chairman Ralph Rieben's resignation in January 2011.
Geary could not be reached for comment Friday.
According to the resignation letter submitted Thursday night, Geary states, "[t]here are many reasons I have come to this decision including I find myself without the passion I once had to come to the task at hand and my work schedule is taking time that I need to devote to the county."
Geary wrote that by staying on he would "deprive the commission, citizens of Grundy County and especially the citizens of the 3rd District of a proper representative."
The commission and the county would miss Geary's experience and expertise, Cleek said. Commissioners will have to appoint a replacement, he said.
Cleek said he wasn't not yet sure whether the open seat can be placed on the upcoming ballot.
"I think we'll have to go through another nomination process to fill the position until the next election," he said.
If the seat can't be filled this summer, the next county general election is August 2014, Cleek said.
"We regret to see him submit a letter, but after discussing it we also respect his decision," he said.
Cleek said Geary is expected to make a public announcement at Monday's commission meeting.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...