Tensions boiled over in a Grantville City Council meeting on Monday when the mayor yelled at a council member.
It happened after Councilwoman Dee Berry asked the mayor a series of questions including whether the meeting should go on without the city attorney present.
Mayor Richard Proctor said it could, but she argued the point.
“Ms. Berry, would you please stay on topic tonight, or I’m gonna have you removed,” Proctor said angrily.
“You’re gonna remove me just for asking a question?” Berry responded.
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Seconds later, Berry asked for the council to review the contract of the city manager, sparking an outburst from the mayor.
“Quiet! Quiet! And I mean it!” he yelled while pointing at her.
That’s when Berry’s husband stood up in the audience.
“I’m tired of you disrespecting Ms. Berry,” he shot back.
In an interview Tuesday with Channel 2′s Bryan Mims, Proctor said Berry is the one who repeatedly disrespects city council meeting rules and decorum by asking questions at inappropriate times.
“Questions that were frankly not relevant to the discussion,” he said. “I asked her to please stop. I banged the gavel, she wouldn’t stop, so I lost my temper a little bit.”
The mayor acknowledged that he overreacted during the public meeting.
“I certainly felt I overreacted, but you have to understand it comes from a point of frustration from multiple meetings – multiple meetings – where she has been doing this, not staying on order,” he explained.
Berry said she has deep concerns about a variety of issues facing Grantville, and she’s unapologetic about asking lots of questions in council meetings.
“I ask questions, the people in the community call me and I represent them,” she said. “So I ask questions, he doesn’t like this.”
Proctor and Berry are both relatively new to the city council, beginning their terms in January. Proctor said he’s running council meetings more efficiently than before, but Berry said he’s been nothing but a bully.
“I want him to do better,” Berry said. “I want him to understand there’s a process, and it’s not a dictatorship where he’s in control, hitting the gavel, telling people to shut up. I want him to act like a grownup.”
Proctor said under the city’s charter, he has the power to remove city council members who are repeatedly out of order and interfering with meetings. Berry said she has a right to ask questions and plans to continue speaking up for her constituents.
“More than anything, I just appreciate if she would follow the rules, listen to what’s being said, and ask pertinent questions,” he said.
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