Cutting off a political dispute over who should legally represent the First District, Anne Arundel County Councilman Peter Smith resigned while fighting back tears Monday night.
Smith then immediately offered his seat to seat to his predecessor, Daryl Jones, who took it without hesitation.Jones was effectively removed from his council seat in January 2012 by a 6-0 vote. The council had declared Jones' seat vacant on grounds that while incarcerated in South Carolina, serving out a five-month sentence for not filing federal income taxes, Jones would not be living at his residence in the First District.
Jones sued and after multiple judges declared the council's action improper, most recently on Friday, Smith said he had decided to do "the right thing," and step down before the argument could be drawn out any further.
"I do this for the sake of the institution and a wholehearted belief in our judicial system. The legal process has spoken, and while there may be questions about semantics, it is clear to me what needs to be done," Smith said.
Smith thanked his legislative aide and his colleagues on the council, and while fighting tears, said he would always cherish the people of the First District.
And to Jones, Smith said that he was resigning his seat to begin a healing process.
"I offer my resignation as a way to start the healing process and to turn a page on this chapter. Sir, this seat is yours," Smith said.
Then, Smith and Jones embraced and Jones sat down in the First District seat. Chairman Jerry Walker called a five-minute recess, during which Smith's name placard was replaced with Jones'.
In a brief interview with Patch, Jones said he and Smith had conversations before the meeting, and he was not surprised but he turn of events. Similarly, Councilman Dick Ladd said the council was informed of Smith's intent prior to the meeting.
After the recess, Jones was brief in his remarks to the council, thanking his supporters and apologizing to Chairman Jerry Walker for any delays caused.
"I certainly extend apologies for any actions that may have caused an interruption to this situation, but Mr. Chairman, let's get to work," Jones said.