By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Cloverdale City Councilwoman Mary Ann Brigham abruptly resigned her position Wednesday citing a desire to spend more time with her family and business.
Brigham, 59, said she did not have enough time to do her job as a council member and tend to other obligations.
“I felt like I won’t be able to give the amount of time and effort it takes to be a really good council person,” she said, adding that it was a difficult decision.
“I knew I had to make some hard choices,” she said.
Brigham served on the City Council two terms, from 1998-2006, including a year as mayor. She lost a lackluster bid for re-election, but came back strong in 2008 as the top vote-getter.
Brigham is the owner of Ruth McGowan Pub in downtown Cloverdale, which is launching its own bottling line next month.
She also has a sister who lives with her and whose health issues have demanded more of Brigham’s time.
Her fellow council members said they were surprised by her departure.
“It caught me unaware,” said Mayor Carol Russell. “I am so sad to see Mary Ann go. She has been a good, strong council person and devoted a lot of time and effort to the city.”
The council at its meeting next week will take up the issue of how to find a replacement to fill the remainder of her term, which expires in November 2012.
City Manager Nina Regor said it is too late to place Brigham’s seat on the November ballot.
That leaves the possibility of the council either appointing someone, or holding a special election.
But the cost of an election could sway council members to appoint a replacement for Brigham. And an appointment also would be faster.
Russell said when there are only four council members it’s easier to deadlock issues. And in the event a council member has a conflict of interest on a matter, it can leave only three council members to vote, what Russell said is best to avoid.
There are very important upcoming issues, the mayor said, from dealing with the city’s budget, to passing an economic development plan, to decisions on a proposed casino.
Brigham’s pet project continues to be the creation of a performing arts center, which is under construction and expected to be open by late October or early November.
She is credited with being the catalyst for transforming an old building on Cloverdale Boulevard into the performing arts center.
While funded primarily through redevelopment money, Brigham has been involved in seeking donations and grant funds for classes and programs that will be held at the center.
She said she will continue as president of the performing arts board.
“It will be the crown jewel of downtown Cloverdale. I want to continue to be the driving force behind it until it opens,” she said.