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.