Ernest Nash, Jr.

In his State of the City address Thursday night, Gould Mayor Earnest Nash, Jr. announced his resignation.

“As of 12 midnight on the 21st of February, I will no longer be your mayor,” Nash said, drawing applause from the crowded Gould City Council chambers. “I will no longer be your whuppin’ boy. You will no longer abuse me. You will no longer make my family suffer. You will no longer sit in this council chamber and laugh in my face.”

Nash’s resignation comes on the heels of several years of political infighting and negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service to settle the town’s $300,000 tax debt.

The unpaid taxes and how to settle the debt were the subject of frequent clashes among the mayor, the City Council, and the Gould Citizens Advisory Council, of which Mayor Nash was a member. Those clashes — and a perception by the city council that the citizens’ group is seeking too much influence — led to the city council’s ban on new organizations and a pair of other controversial measures.

In 2011, the City Council adopted an ordinance making it illegal to form any kind of group or organization without its permission. That came on the heels of the council overriding the mayor’s veto of two other controversial measures. One required that the citizens advisory council cease to exist and the other made it illegal for the mayor to meet with “any organization in any location” either “inside or outside Gould city limits” without the city council’s permission.

The unconstitutional ordinances were later overturned.

Also in 2011, Nash said he was attacked near a Gould service station following months of harassment and threats. Relatives of a City Council member were subsequently arrested for the attack.

The political disputes continued when the recorder-treasurer resigned and the mayor refused to allow the city council to fill the vacant position. Nash challenged the legality of the appointment, vetoing the council action repeatedly. The council overrode each veto.

One Lincoln County resident told Seark Today that the mayor and city council were trying to destroy each other. “The mayor is the right arm of the city government and the council is the left arm and they’re trying to strangle each other,” he said.

In 2012, Nash was arrested for allegedly assaulting a former alderman and recorder treasurer. He was convicted of third-degree battery and acquitted of two other battery charges. He was also charged with obstructing governmental operations, theft of property, abuse of office and nonfeasance in office. Judge Rob Wyatt declared a mistrial in that case saying evidence was improperly introduced. The charges were later dropped when new evidence was discovered raising reasonable doubt of the mayor’s guilt.