Sallisaw Officials Deny Verbally Attacking Mayor Candidate
Two Sallisaw city officials told 5NEWS on Thursday (Jan. 30) that they did not verbally attack Julie Ferguson during a meeting before she was fired from her city job as community development director.
Sallisaw City Manager Bill Baker told 5NEWS on Thursday (Jan. 30) that although he met with Ferguson to discuss her termination, he did not verbally attack her.
Ferguson is a candidate for mayor against incumbent Shannon Vann.
Ferguson said prior to being fired, she was called into a meeting with the Sallisaw city manager and the city clerk, during which she was verbally attacked for 30 minutes.
She said she left that meeting and went back to her office, only to have a similar meeting at a later date.
City Clerk Dianna Davis told 5NEWS on Thursday (Jan. 30) she was just a witness in that meeting and that she also did not verbally attack Ferguson.
Baker also said he offered Ferguson a chance to resign before terminating her position, and she declined the offer.
“I offered her a chance to resign, and she absolutely refused,” Baker said.
The City of Sallisaw released documents to 5NEWS after an open records request on Wednesday (Jan. 29) detailing why Ferguson was fired from her former city job.
Under Oklahoma state law, if a document is an open record, the Sallisaw City Clerk had to disclose that document after receiving the request.
Ferguson, a city commissioner, said despite the firing, she plans on carrying out her campaign in the race against Vann. The election is set for Feb. 11.
The letter of termination from the Sallisaw city manager to Ferguson details eight reasons for her termination from the position of Community Development Director on March 5, 2012.
(See the letter of termination below the story)
According to the letter, Ferguson was fired for “advising certain employees and encouraging them to file a lawsuit against the city.”
The letter also states, “[Ferguson’s] relationship with other staff members has deteriorated to the point that many do not wish to work with [her].”
The letter went on to state other employees complained that she was “rude and condescending at times.”
Those were just two of the eight reasons given in the document for Ferguson’s termination, but she countered that the reasons for her termination were just vague accusations.
“There is no proof,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson said she worked for the city for 17 years, and during that time, she brought in $9.5 million in grants.
“[There was a] person on staff who wanted my job,” she said. “Before I could write a letter of resignation, I received a letter of termination.”
Ferguson said she had no strength to fight her firing, so she left and sought no legal counsel, as she felt it would have been pointless.
After leaving her old position behind, she eventually came back and won a spot on the Board of City Commissioners.
After having that position for a few months, she decided to run for mayor.
“I see opportunity to grow the town,” she said.