Sallisaw Officials Deny Verbally Attacking Mayor Candidate

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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.

Termination Letter

Termination Letter Page 1Termination Letter Page 2


  • Mike

    Not my fight but it does strike me as a little odd that in paragraph 5 of the termination letter it states “In my opinion, you misinterpreted what you heard, repeated it as hearsay, and caused great difficulties. Spreading gossip or repeating conversations to which you are not privy, can cause great harm to any organization”.

    Then in paragraph 7, the letter states “… but there is at least one witness who overheard your conversation…”, obviously one they were not privy, and repeated it.

    I guess it depends on who is overhearing and repeating conversations as to whether or not it can cause great harm…. Just saying…

    • Ramona

      Yes, Mike, I too saw that inconsistency! I don’t know either one of these individuals and don’t have a stake in the matter but seems to me that someone wants to control someone and is a little upset that the other one doesn’t want to be controlled.

  • Mark Smith

    The public mud slinging and news participation is so transparent. Good ol boys ride again! Yeehaaaaw. (Not).

  • Mary Baker

    This is a back-stabbing, low down way that the mayor Shannon Vann, and City Manager Bill Baker are attempting to discredit, and bring up dirt just to make themselves look good, and to try to get Shannon Vann to win the election.
    I have met with them personally several times. First of all Bill Baker was fired from Lawton, ok, as a City Manager, so who does he have the right put anyone else down for being fired. Then the funny thing is after he was fired in Lawton, Ok, for not being suited for being a city manager, he was voted to manage Sallisaw, and it has been going down hill every since. He has been rude and hateful to me, and Shannon Vann has also. I have had several face to face meetings with them. I was basically told that Bill Baker (not related to me), the he would never allow me to be able to talk on the City Council Meetings. Shannon Vann has been rude, but degrading people who live in the trailer park, where they plan to build an Animal Shelter, against almost two hundred signatures protesting for the Animal Shelter to be placed, directly next to the trailer park. Shannon Vann and Bill Baker feed off of each other, to get accomplished for what THEY want. This is horrible, nit-picking childish actions they are taking to guarantee Shannon to win again. Bill has no right to talk about anyone being rude, hateful, or being fired, when himself as done so. He has even told me if I did not like the way things were going to go to the courts and file a complaint/suit, and that is one of the things he has said that the new major told people. He is very much a dishonest man, and he is only out for himself and his position, and Shannon Vann. I would love to have someone contact me, so I can tell the truth about what is really going on in Sallisaw. My name is Mary Baker, and my phone number is 918-208-9892. Call me for the truth.

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