Birmingham City Councilor Jay Roberson announced his resignation from the council on Thursday, a decision that left many of his colleagues “shocked” and that will further shake up a council already facing significant membership changes.
During a press conference held at Lawson State Community College, Roberson confirmed that he would be stepping down as District 7’s councilor effective Sept.10.
Roberson said his wife has taken a new “dream job” with Alabaster City Schools, which will require his family to move.
“My wife’s wholehearted support allowed me to have this opportunity (as councilor),” he said in a press release. “Now is a time for me to support her professional aspirations and do what’s right for my family.” Alabaster is approximately 23.5 miles south of Birmingham.
At the press conference, flanked by his wife, Niva, and other family members, Roberson maintained that he was not stepping down due to any wrongdoing.
“When I decided to run for office, I said I would do things the right way,” he said. “I said I’ve done things upstanding and scandal-free, and we are scandal-free.”
His press release also emphasized that he was “proud of the fact that I have honored State ethics laws, and thus hope that I can be looked upon as an example to those who seek to serve in public office after me.”
Roberson’s resignation leaves the council with yet another empty seat to fill. District 1 Councilor Lashunda Scales and District 6 Councilor Sheila Tyson will resign in November to join the Jefferson County Commission, to which they were elected last month. Council President Valerie Abbott has said she expects the process of appointing their successors to begin in late October. The search for Roberson’s replacement, she said, will begin next month.
Abbott also remarked that she was “surprised” when Roberson informed her of the news Wednesday. “It was a shock,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it. That was probably the last thing I expected.”
Roberson was first elected to the council in 2009, filling the seat of Miriam Witherspoon after her sudden death. He was re-elected for a second term in 2013, and at the beginning of his third term last year was elected as the council’s president pro tempore. Before his resignation, he served as chair of the council’s utilities and technology committee and was a member of its administration and education, budget and finance, and economic development committees.
At Thursday’s press conference, Roberson cited a handful of accomplishments from his tenure as city councilor, including revitalizing the Wildwood Shopping Center, introducing the city’s “100 Days of Nonviolence” program, and creating a new, “luxury” movie theater for his district.
“As a city councilor, I fought the notion that we serve to fill a seat, but rather that we are elected to take action for those we serve,” he said. “In my time of action as city councilor, I am very proud of the record we have established.”