LAKE PARK -- Lake Park City Council voted Thursday to remove Mayor Keith Sandlin after a two-hour public hearing and a brief executive session where they discussed the proceedings.

Members voted 3-1 in favor of a motion made by Russell Lane and seconded by J.E. Fender to remove Sandlin. Jo Anne Rutland made the third affirmative vote, with Councilman Johnny B. Corbett voting against the mayor's removal.

Sandlin intends to appeal. He will continue to serve as mayor until a ruling is made in Superior Court of Lowndes County.

The public hearing in front of a capacity crowd began much like a court proceeding with special master Elliott P. McCollum presiding. Attorney for the city Robert Plumb questioned Sandlin, Police Chief Burt Rutland and City Clerk Ann Peterson about the events surrounding an incident between the three in May.

Peterson and Rutland testified that Sandlin "scolded" them for their handling of zoning and water violations on the property of Lake Park citizen Velma Baxley. Guy Terry, attorney for Sandlin, also questioned the three about the same incidents. Rutland and Peterson said the mayor did not affect the dealings with Baxley, but both said they were told by the mayor to "not go back on Baxley's property."

After the meeting, both sides said they were pleased with the results.

Lane, responding to Terry's statement that Sandlin will appeal the decision, said the proceedings were not over, but he was "proud of the city employees for standing firm."

Sandlin echoed the sentiment that the public hearing and subsequent vote for removal were not the end. "I really think the meeting turned out well for me to be able to go to Superior Court," Sandlin said. "I believe in Superior Court that I will be vindicated."

Terry said that although his client has 30 days to appeal the removal, he will proceed immediately.

To contact Tanya B. O'Berry,

please call 244-3400, ext. 239

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