Now those undertakings will go undone — Ridley unexpectedly resigned on Monday, citing in a statement the “strenuous requirements of the job” and that he has “neglected certain other important family and business matters.” He did not immediately return a message left on his cellphone, and a call to a home phone listed during his election campaign in 2008 went unanswered.
“I must, guided by my conscience, relinquish my position as commissioner immediately,” Ridley said in the statement after thanking county residents for electing him in 2008. “I don’t want this to be viewed as an abandonment of my office. I will work with the transition team as necessary to make sure than an orderly progression is followed. I sincerely hope that each of you will honor my decision as it was my voluntary decision and the best decision for me and my family and request that you respect the same.”
County Attorney Greg Kinnamon said according to the charter of the county government that was changed by state legislation in 1999 — when the structure went from a five-man commission to a sole commissioner — the county manager, Tom Starnes, will take over leadership of the county until Probate Court Judge Dale Adams sets an election date. Adams had left for the day when a call was placed to him just before 5 p.m., an office clerk said.
Kinnamon said the earliest an election can be set is June 21. He pointed out that Gov. Nathan Deal will have to be informed there is a vacancy in the office of a constitutionally elected official.
Informed that Kinnamon had found the charter named the county manager as the person to assume the duties of interim commissioner, Starnes said he wanted to talk to Kinnamon before commenting. He had not called back as of press time.
When asked, Finance Director Tommy Parker said Ridley had “not been in today.”
“The resignation speaks for itself, at this point,” he said.
Kinnamon said he helped Ridley draw up the letter of resignation.
“I think he dwelled on it all weekend,” he said, “and then, basically, he made a decision.”
Kinnamon said he was not at liberty to discuss the details of what went into Ridley’s decision.
Parker said Ridley came to work for the county in July of 1990 as a fire station coordinator, and in October of 1997 became the fire department’s operations manager. In April of 2003 he was tapped to serve as EMA director and fire chief jointly, and in January of 2005 he resigned both positions. He was elected commissioner in November of 2008 and took office in January of 2009.
Ridley had worked for a private firm, Terry Grant Fire Services, that contracted with Murray County government for fire services, before going to work for the county after the county formed its own fire department. He has also owned and operated a poultry farm, according to information released for his election campaign.
Click here for more from the Dalton Daily Citizen