Additional reporting by Morgan Garmo
On a chilly October night, tensions were heating up at City Hall in Albion. As citizens overflowed the hall outside the City Council’s chambers, council members gathered inside to vote on whether or not the resignation put in by City Manager Sheryl Mitchell would be rejected and to hear whether she herself would rescind her resignation.
To widespread cheers, Mitchell took back her resignation at the Oct. 30 meeting. Stay tuned for the council to seal the deal.
Shortly after the call to order, the floor was opened for public comment. A plethora of citizens went up to speak before the council. Many heavily defended Mitchell and the work she has done for the Albion community. Many community members collaborated on speeches and sent an assigned delegate to read the speech on their behalf.
“The person who has had the leadership here in Albion is Dr. Mitchell,” one resident said. “She has showed up when others have not, she has lived here when others may not have, and she has come through with her word with transparency in ways that are rare, frankly.”
It was not only individuals that spoke out in favor of Mitchell, but organizations as well. Bob Dunklin, the president of Albion’s NAACP branch, spoke on behalf of the group to the council.
“I share with you tonight, a house divided cannot stand or survive,” he stated. “What I ask you to do tonight is to stop, look and listen. Stop making unwise decisions and follow the charter. Look around you, and see what you’re doing to this community. And please, listen, to this community.”
Nels Christensen, an English professor at Albion College and city resident, also spoke. While he sympathized with the council on how difficult serving on a board can be, he also pointed out a silver lining.
“The thing I love about resolutions is that all of the mess goes to the side,” he said. “The resolution is a vote on words, on a piece of paper in front of you, that asks you to vote on statements of fact that you either agree or don’t agree with,” he explained.
On the topic of Mitchell, Christensen concurred with the other speakers.
“I don’t see how it makes any sense not to reject her resignation. The only way it would make sense to reject it was if you thought the town of Albion was better off without her, and the evidence to the contrary strikes me as so overwhelming.”
Then came time for Mitchell to speak for herself. She took time to reflect on her history and passion for public service, along with how the council should be able to lead by example.
“I did not come to Albion because I needed a job. I did not come to Albion because I considered the city manager position to be a stepping stone to something else. I came to Albion because I wanted to serve.”
Mitchell’s remarks in rescinding her resignation were met by a thunderous standing ovation from the packed room. Several council members also stood to applaud.
The council will next vote on a resolution to create a healthy work environment and meet the needs of the city manager. The date for this vote is yet to be determined.