Register resigns from Garland board

Chris Berendt Staff Writer

September 5, 2013

GARLAND — Garland commissioner Matthew Register has resigned from the town board, effective immediately.

Reasons were not immediately disclosed, however Garland Mayor Winifred Murphy said Register did submit a resignation letter, the contents of which would be released when the board meets for its regular meeting this Tuesday, Sept. 10.

“Matthew Register submitted his resignation letter effective immediately Tuesday,” Murphy confirmed Wednesday. “He has been talking to me about it since last Thursday’s meeting. The news hit the street quickly before I actually got the official copy.”

Last Thursday’s meeting was a special-called session to discuss holding a possible Garland Community Day to take the place of the annual Garland Rotary Fair. At the meeting, the formation of a new club to replace the defunct Garland Rotary Club, which lost its charter in June, was announced. Leaders of that group expressed their desire to save Rotary Day with just a month to spare, but have since been informed the name “Rotary” is not an option for the unrecognized club.

Other members of the community inquired as to whether they could join forces with the new “Rotary” club, but were told that any new members would be considered on a case-by-case basis by the group. Following the meeting, Murphy said it was “just more division” for the board and its community.

It is unclear what specifically factored into Register’s decision, but he did bring up concerns of trying to put on a parade and fair in such a short time frame.

“I don’t care who’s doing it, the time frame bothers me,” Register said at that meeting. “Four weeks is just quick. My biggest concern is Garland looking bad if we don’t pull something off. That’s been my concern all along.”

Murphy said Register’s resignation will be formally considered by the board Tuesday.

“I cannot release the letter until after the meeting next week,” the mayor said.

Register was appointed in February 2012 to fill the unexpired commissioner’s term of Murphy, who was herself appointed to the mayoral post following longtime mayor Anthony Johnson’s resignation. Haywood Johnson was appointed the next month, in March 2012, to fill the unexpired term of resigning commissioner Coleman Johnson.

Whereas the board accepted resignations of Anthony Johnson and Coleman Johnson immediately, Murphy said she could not predict what the board would do in the case of Register’s resignation.

According to the town’s ordinance, Sec. 160A-62, all city officers, whether elected or appointed, shall continue to hold office until their successors are chosen and qualified. Sec. 160A-63 of the town’s ordinance states that “all vacancies that occur in any elective office shall be filled by appointment of the city council for the remainder of the unexpired term. Vacancies in appointive offices shall be filled by the same authority that makes the initial appointment.”

“I don’t know if (the board) will follow the same procedure as we did in the spring of 2012, if they will come in and have an appointee, or if they will wait until December and choose from the six who are running,” said Murphy.

Haywood Johnson, Denise Toler and Michael Toler will see each of their terms expire in November, and each has filed for reelection. In addition to those three, three challengers Carolyn Yolanda Melvin, past commissioner S.J. Smith and Judy C. Smith have also thrown their hats in the ring — the six to which Murphy is referring.

Ralph Smith, elected to the board along with Murphy in November 2011, will not see his commissioner term expire until 2015, but is running against Murphy in the November mayoral race. The unexpired term of Murphy’s, now the unexpired term of Register’s, also expires in 2015.

Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at