In Tuesday’s rescheduled Town Council Meeting led by Acting Town Mayor Rev. Ellsworth Tolliver, Mayor Chris Cerino resigned via a letter to the Town and Council citing stress levels that have impacted his mental and physical well-being.
The letter was read to the Council by Town Manager Bill Ingersoll.
Cerino was not present at either Monday’s cancelled meeting or Tuesday’s council session.
Cerino was elected in 2013, reelected in 2017, and recently announced that he would not be seeking a third term in this November.
Going forward, Ingersoll said that the Council could let Rev. Tolliver continue as Acting Mayor for the duration of the Mayor’s term ending in November or on a meeting-by-meeting basis, or even hold an early election to fill the position if the Council can not decide on an Acting Town Mayor.
Here is Cerino’s letter as it was read to the Council:
Monday, April 5, 2021
To the residents of Chestertown,
I am submitting this letter tonight to inform you that I am resigning from my post as Mayor of Chestertown, effective immediately. This is not a decision to be taken lightly, and comes after hours of soul searching, conversations with my wife and children, and ultimately at the direction of our family physician. Over the past several days, my emotional state has become increasingly unstable. While this is embarrassing to reveal in a public forum, I must now be honest with myself -and with you – in acknowledging that the stress levels I have endured for the past seven years are significantly impacting my mental health and physical well being. In the long term, I am confident that I will be fine. However, in the short term I urgently need to unplug, spend time with family and friends, and focus exclusively on activities that bring me peace and happiness.
I am extremely proud of the many great things we have accomplished together during my time in office. The capital improvements that have been implemented throughout the community, economic development programs that have been put in place, and social justice initiatives designed to address issues of equity and inclusion are just beginning to bear fruit, and will benefit our residents for years to come.
None of this would be possible without the support of hundreds of community stakeholders that have helped along the way. I would like to personally thank each and every volunteer that served on the Town’s Planning Commission, Historic District Commission, Board of Appeals, Ethics Commission, Recreation Commission, Redistricting Committee, Environmental Committee, Tree Committee, Public Arts Committee, Equity Advisory Committee, and the Boards of the Chestertown Main Street program and Arts and Entertainment District. Additionally, I would like to commend all of the paid employees that ensure our governmental services are delivered in an efficient and professional manner.
This includes the staff at Town Hall, members of the street crew, employees on the utilities commission, and officers of the Chestertown Police Department. While the Mayor often gets the sound bites in the press, you are the true face of Chestertown for our constituents. Lastly, I would like to thank the staff and Board of Directors at Sultana Education Foundation, who have been extraordinarily generous and flexible in allowing me to juggle the myriad responsibilities associated with holding public office while simultaneously working to implement educational programs at Sultana.
In closing, please know that I have nothing but love, respect, and compassion for every single one of the five thousands residents of Chestertown. You deserve competent, strong, and energetic leadership, which I am unable to provide at the present time. In seven months, you will have the opportunity to elect a new leader, and when that time comes I stand by ready to assist in any way practical. In the interim, I am confident that the Town’s affairs will be in good hands with my fellow Council members and our capable staff.
Ingersoll followed the resignation with a personal statement. “I have been here through at least four mayors, some long term, and this gentleman has done right up there with all of them the best a big heart he was not swayed politically at any time by these issues and I’m proud to work with him.”
The resignation came near the end of the meeting, leaving Council members’ only opportunity to respond during the Ward reports.
Ward 4 Councilmember Meghan Efland said, “Chris is a wonderful person, and I feel for him. I know that this has been a tough time, and I think it’s a huge loss for us, especially with moving on to having a new mayor when we go into the elections in the fall. As Tom said, I think he’s been a wonderful mentor, and he’s been somebody who’s always been a sounding board and available, and this taught us from lessons he’s learned over the years in his office, So definitely I’m definitely in shock, and he’ll be missed.”
Ward 2 Councilmember Tom Herz said, “I’m also there I didn’t know Chris very well before taking office but he always took enough time to explain the present circumstances and the history of a project. It’s a great loss to the town but I understand his point of view…and I go with David (Foster) thought that until you are sitting in one of these chairs you don’t know the amount of work and amount of time it takes to be on the Council and I can’t even imagine what it must take to be the Mayor. He will be sorely missed.”
Due to severe online audio connectivity issues, some Council transcripts will be published by the Spy as they are clarified.