Andy Potts, who said he has about 50 of his neighbors behind him, sent the complaint to Mayor Gene Hobgood on Tuesday. The complaint accuses Cummins of abusing his role as a council member and interim city manager to become the finalist for the city manager job.
“These charges against Mr. Cummins are a clear violation of the most sacred roots of our democracy,” Potts wrote in the complaint, citing city code. “Elected officials should never be allowed to participate in a process, or have direct influence in a process, that allows them to benefit financially and receive taxpayer dollars.”
Cummins has been receiving $10,000 a month, less his council salary, as interim city manager after Scott Wood resigned the job in January.
Cummins applied for the job permanently in May and was named the sole finalist earlier this month. According to officials, he hasn’t participated in the selection process since he applied.
In the complaint, Potts, a Canton resident of 11 years, accuses Cummins of violating the city ethics code, which states officials can’t benefit privately from their roles in office. Potts argues Cummins should have stepped down from the council when he decided to apply.
Cummins said Tuesday afternoon he would have no comment on the complaint until it had gone through the proper process within the city.
“I’ll comment at the appropriate time,” he said.
The council is expected to decide whether or not to hire Cummins during its meeting next Thursday, and City Attorney Bobby Dyer said he does not expect the complaint to have an effect on the council’s plans to vote.
Dyer said the process laid out in Canton ordinances for such complaints dictates the mayor will appoint two council members and the city attorney to review the complaint and decide whether to send it to the city’s ethics board. If the ethics board upholds a complaint, it can either reprimand or censure the official who violated the ethics ordinances, Dyer said.
The complaint alleges Cummins has violated the ethics code by influencing the process after the former sole finalist withdrew from the running amid doubt in his qualifications from council members, including Cummins.
“The fact that Mr. Cummins did not enter his resume into the running from the beginning has a direct impact on his compensation. This created a situation where Mr. Cummins had influence in the city manager selection process and then financially gained from the disqualification of the sole candidate, Mr. Billy Peppers. Not only did it lengthen the time he was acting city manager, which is more financial gain, but it also opened himself up for the position,” the complaint says.
Cummins initially said he wasn’t interested in the position, but he changed his mind because many people said he was doing a good job and encouraged him to apply.
While the accusations in the complaint are strong, Potts said he wasn’t personally going against Cummins. Instead, Potts said he and his neighbors are against the “mockery” of how the process has gone.
Councilman Hooky Huffman, who is on the council’s city manager selection committee, said Tuesday afternoon he wasn’t aware of the complaint. He said he’d like to study the complaint, but the city had considered Cummins’ decision to remain on the council.
“It has been discussed, and we feel very comfortable that there was nothing being done incorrectly,” he said. “Mr. Potts could have his own opinion. My opinion is I don’t think much about it. It would be serious if it was accurate, but I think we’ve touched all the bases.”
The mayor had no comment, except that the city will follow the procedures for such complaints laid out in the code, though he added there may be an issue that the complaint wasn’t notarized.