According to the city's police chief Charles Eubanks, it appears that council member Eddie Stinnett, 67, on Wednesday died of a heart attack just prior to crashing his car into another vehicle on Ga. 2A near Van Cleve Street in the city. The accident occurred about 8 a.m.
With Stinnett's death, the council is left with just three members with which to do business. Those three, Earl Gray, Johnnie “Red” Smith and Louis Hamm, now make up the quorum required to do business on behalf of the city.
Just a day before, Stinnett seconded a motion that removed Charles Sharrock from his position on the council, following a hearing in which Sharrock faced accusations of sexual harassment against female city employees.
Stinnett was a controversial voice on the council as he argued for the sale of alcohol and package beer on Sundays. His opinion was that it would serve to boost the local economy.
In a recent vote to pass a city budget for 2013, Stinnett voted for a three-percent across-the-board raise for city employees. That was not popular with his colleagues and the budget ultimately failed and was replaced with one that will address raises in the spring. Stinnett argued that the city needed to spend money to get talented individuals into city jobs.
According to Hamm, Stinnett was a key proponent in the upgrading of the Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe Recreation Association baseball fields. Along with the upgrades, Stinnett was a major influence in bringing the Rick Honetcutt World Series to the city.
According to city manager Ron Goulart, the city charter does not provide for a special election or an appointment to fill a vacant seat unless there are six months remaining on that term. Goulart said that the earliest a special election could be held for Stinnett’s pot would be March. Whomever is elected to fill the seat at that time would be subject to running again in the November 2013 elections.
Mayor Lynn Long said of Stinnett's passing, “Very, very tragic. Eddie was a class act, he truly was. He took his job as a councilman very seriously. He stood tall on issues he was behind.”
“It was such a shock after being with him all day yesterday,” said Goulart. “He was always here — someone you could count on.”
“What a tragedy it is,” remarked fellow council member Hamm. “Eddie was dedicated to what he believed. He was a great asset to the city. He loved the city.”
Stinnett, a retired welder, is survived by a wife, two sons and several grandchildren.