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Cedar Springs city counselor resigns

Raymond Huckleberry

By Judy Reed

Cedar Springs City Councilor Raymond Huckleberry bid the council and public a tearful farewell last Thursday evening when he announced during council comments that it would be his last city council meeting. His term does not expire until November.
“This was one of the most painful and agonizing decisions I’ve ever made. I am doing so for family and financial reasons,” said Huckleberry.
He noted that when he was elected four years ago, he was seemingly a successful businessperson with a wife, kids, a house and a dog. He said he’s now weathered the failing of his business (Stein Bros pizza), criminal charges, a bankruptcy and divorce. As part of the bankruptcy, his home is being foreclosed on and he is moving out next week. His wife is moving also, and he said that in order to successfully continue to co-parent his children, he would be moving to Greenville.
He stated that the charge of larceny he stood trial for and was convicted of by Judge Servaas last year did not factor into his decision. “For anyone that has any idea that this has anything to do with the criminal charges that were also brought upon me, (that I still believe I’m innocent of and am still currently appealing), they do not…NOTHING.  This is strictly for the continued successful co-parenting of my children and our long term financial security,” he remarked.
Huckleberry was convicted last year for selling goods that were left in the upstairs of the building that Huckleberry leased from Doug Stein. Huckleberry’s defense was that their agreement stated that Stein had to remove the goods within 30 days, but Judge Servaas said he believed that he had a verbal agreement with Doug Stein that he could leave the items there as long as he needed to. Huckleberry is currently appealing that decision.
Huckleberry thanked the community for their tremendous support for some of the darkest times in his life. “The pats on the back, the cards in the mail from citizens, the words of support in the grocery stores, etc. was really much of what got me through it all. You have no idea what they meant to me…. More than you will ever know,” he said.
He noted that regardless of his mailing address, Cedar Springs would always be  his hometown.
Huckleberry was humbled by the response to his resignation. “I was deeply moved by all the comments the councilors and manager made after my resignation, and the hugs that followed the meeting,” he noted. “I was touched that everyone said they understood and respected my decision knowing I was thinking about me and my boys.”
The Cedar Springs City Council now needs to find a replacement for Huckleberry, and is accepting letters of interest and resumes until March 25. All resumes will be distributed at their special meeting on March 28. “They hope to do interviews prior to the April meeting so they can have someone appointed on April 14,” explained City Manager Christine Burns. The person will fulfill the remainder of the term, which expires in November. For details, see the legal ad on page 16.
For Huckleberry’s complete letter as read to the city council, see below:

Raymond Huckleberry resignation letter March 10, 2011
“It is with the most sincere sadness and regret that I must announce my resignation from this council effective at the end of this meeting. This was one of the most painful and agonizing decisions I’ve ever made. I am doing so for family and financial reasons.
The last few years, while I have served on the council, has been a torrent of life altering occurrences and they have now combined not to force but definitely push my hand into this. When I was elected, I was seemingly a successful business person with a wife, kids, a house and a dog. I’ve now weathered the failing of my business, criminal charges, a bankruptcy and divorce. Due to multiple factors, I included my home in the bankruptcy and my move out date from the foreclosure is in the next week or so. My ex-wife is needing to move at some point, making our full joint custody and successful coparenting together with her very difficult if I stay here. So looking at the picture as a whole I am moving to Greenville.
For anyone that has any idea that this has anything to do with the criminal charges that were also brought upon me, that I still believe I’m innocent of and am still currently appealing, they do not….NOTHING. This is strictly for the continued successful coparenting of my children and our long term financial security.
I must take this time to thank this body and community for the tremendous support it has given me through some of the darkest chapters of my life. The pats on the back, the cards in the mail from citizens, the words of support in the grocery stores, etc. was really much of what got me through it all. You have no idea what they meant to me…. More than you will ever know.
I could not be more proud to have served with such a wonderful group of dedicated public servants and employees. “A great place to live, work, and play” is more than a slogan it is a simple truth about this community.
I apologize with every ounce of my being to the public that elected me that I am unable to completely fulfill my term. This was not a decision that came easily or I took lightly, I am sorry.
I will miss serving you, the public, and working towards a continual improvement of this great community. I have seen so many wonderful things come to fruition in my term it pains me that I wont be able to be a part of what is to come…
Again I am so sorry that I must leave you, I could not imagine being part of a better more dedicated team. This city is so fortunate to be served by each and every one of you here (at the meeting) the elected officials, department heads and staff.
With that I leave you, and I wish you all and this community the very best. Regardless of my mailing address Cedar Springs will always proudly and unwaiveringly be my home town.
Thank you all for everything, I’m sorry.

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6 Responses to “Cedar Springs city counselor resigns”

  1. Charlie Towns says:

    I sent letter Via facebook. I wanted to put it here on the website. Feel free to disagree and comment on it. Just because I am in the army does not make my opinion more valid than yours.
    Ray,
    I wanted to thank you for serving on the counsel. I am in the Army (stationed in Germany) and follow Cedar Springs via the CS post and Cities websites. For close to 14 years now I have been away from home. No matter where I go in the world, I still remember a little place called Cedar Springs and consider it to be my home. Every day I count down the days until I can come back. You stood up to be counted, and did your best to make my home a better place. To me that means allot. When I am deployed fighting the nations wars the thing that keeps me going is family and thinking about the day I come back to my home and never have to leave again.

  2. Charlie Towns says:

    I know that there have been allot of things that have came your way in life since you took office. By your own admission there are some different choices that you would have made, but which one of us can say that we have always made choices we do not regret.

    I think being on the counsel brought allot of heat on you which otherwise would not have been there. I do not agree with every decision that you made in particular the one that has brought so much controversy (I know that you have your own side of the story and maintain your innocences), but I want to thank you. I thank you because there are many People in Cedar who complain about this that or the other, but no one does anything about it (to include voting).

  3. Charlie Towns says:

    cont..
    You became involved in my home, the place that when I am seeing so much ugliness in the world I think: “One day I am going to leave this place on go back home.” Thank you for trying! No.. you are not perfect, and yes like the rest of us you make mistakes. The Cedar City counsel is not a glorious job, it is not a position that will make you rich, you went there because you love Cedar. For this I respect you and wish you well. To me you are now a part of my home. Now you must go for awhile and take care of your life. I wish you all the success, perhaps one day you can move back and become a contributing member of the Cedar community again.

    Until then best wishes,
    Charlie Towns

  4. Dave says:

    I have to say I cannot disagree with you more Charlie. Mr. Huckleberry really owed the public a resignation upon his conviction.

    I’ve read Grand Rapids Press coverage and Cedar Springs Post Coverage. The Post did a remarkable job providing the community a fair presentation of what happened in Court.

    I think when you lie to your landlord, lie to the police, and then try to lie to the Detective you have to accept there are some character issues Mr. Huckleberry could be working on. One would hope he would work those issues outside of public office.

    His defense relies on a technicality he may be creating on his own or with the help of counsel. His dishonesty with his landlord, the police or the Sheriff’s Office is not in question.

    This is not to say the man need be crucified, and it would be nice to admit the dishonesty involved. Yet if he cannot bring himself to do that, I really don’t think he deserves your kindness.

    Thank you for your service to our country, though. I think your opinion does count as much, or more as mine, not matter where you happen to be on the plant.

  5. Charlie Towns says:

    “I think your opinion does count as much, or more as mine, not matter where you happen to be on the plant.” Before I am a soldier I am the kid from next door in Cedar Springs. I worry when I put up here I am a soldier people will think my opinion is above reproach it is not. Alot of people probably wanted to say something but stopped because of what I do you finally did thanks. It is true his actions were wrong, I do not agree with what he did. But don’t you think that when so few in the city participate in the civic process, and he chose to be on the counsel and do his best for the city it should count for something? Being on the City council is not a glorious job that will win you fame and fortune but he did it.

  6. Dave says:

    When I read Mr. Huckleberry’s resignation I really doubt he gets it. An honorable public servant who lies to a detective and his landlord sees the error and makes amends by removing himself from office.

    The man is unquestionably morally wrong. He can admit to lying to Stein in his driveway and the court heard him lie to the Detective.

    The only way he gets off is to say Servass made a mistake in not giving weight to what Huckleberry said.

    Were Servass reversed it does not change the obvious dishonesty Mr. Huckleberry used to save himself from explaining to his landlord what he did with his landlord’s property and the dishonesty he tried to use to fool the detective.

    At this point he stands convicted whether he chooses to “believe” it or not. It is really very sad.

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