SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah City Council voted Thursday to remove Post 1 At-Large Alderwoman Kesha Gibson-Carter from her position as chair of council.
The vote came up at the end of the meeting under “miscellaneous” items on the agenda.
Mayor Van Johnson says reconsideration of city officers was requested on multiple occasions and said he had enough requests to add it to the agenda.
District 6 Alderman Kurtis Purtee presented it to the council before voting began.
“Council has the authority to evaluate its officers. The evaluation can be compared to an employee evaluation. The results can range from increased responsibilities to removal of office,” explained Purtee. “So making this about responsibility, we must take into consideration that one must be held accountable for their actions in light of the reprimand voted on by city council and since the reprimand was approved.”
The council voted back in December to publicly reprimand Gibson-Carter, a Black woman, for calling a fellow council member racist.
The comment was made toward District 4 Alderman Nick Palumbo, a white man, during a property development discussion in their Dec. 9 council meeting.
“I move to remove Kesha Gibson-Carter as council chairperson,” said Purtee Thursday night.
“So, of all the things going on in this city, and of all the things going on in each of your districts, with it taking five members of council to put an item on the agenda…this is the best you can do on the cuff of us eclipsing the number of homicides in this city,” said Gibson-Carter, “on the cuff of us eclipsing aggravated assaults in Atlanta, Georgia, this is the best that this council can do?”
Post 2 At-Large Alderwoman Alicia Miller-Blakely shared her agreement with Gibson-Carter.
“We have many issues in this city that need to be addressed,” said Blakely.
“Bad behavior,” Purtee interjected.
She shook her head and continued: “And trying to get her out of the position of chairman of this council makes absolutely no sense. We need to focus on the needs of this city and get personalities and emotions up out of this whole thing.”
Blakely then addressed the alleged inequity among the council.
“We all know here, that there is five individuals that get any and everything that they want on this council,” she said. “The rest of us get nothing.”
The council vote was 6-2, with Johnson, Purtee, Palumbo and District 2 Alderman Detric Leggett, District 3 Alderwoman Linda Wilder-Bryan and Mayor Pro Tem Alderwoman Dr. Estella Shabazz voting “yes.”
Miller-Blakely and District 1 Alderwoman Bernetta Lanier voted “no.”
“It’s really a moot point. For me, it’s not even about the principle. Because the people of Savannah sent me to this seat and it doesn’t matter about the chair when I’m going to one day be the mayor. So, carry on,” Gibson-Carter said before leaving the chamber.
Johnson denied requests for public comment during the meeting because it was “not a public hearing.”
WSAV News 3 has reached out to Gibson-Carter for further statements on her removal from the chair.