Tim Sessoms, the mayor of Summerfield, may have the hardest job in North Carolina right now.

 In a couple of weeks, Summerfield will be without a manager and without any full-time staff to run the town. Largely due to a disagreement over the way Town Manager Scott Whitaker’s termination was handled in recent months, the entire town staff announced last weekend that they were resigning.

The staff members were upset that the majority of the Town Council originally planned on not giving Whitaker any severance pay and not letting him remain for some time on the town’s insurance despite the fact that his wife is battling cancer.

In an emergency Summerfield Town Council meeting held on Monday, May 20, the council did vote to give Whitaker six months’ severance pay and to keep him on the insurance plan during that period; however, by then, it was too late to change the minds of the departing staff, if that was the intention.

In Summerfield, the mayor doesn’t get to vote in Town Council decisions except in the case of a tie, and the majority of the town council voted not to renew Whitaker’s contract, so his last day as manager will be June 10.

Sessoms is trying to remain upbeat.

Despite the fact that there are clearly warring factions in Summerfield, he’s still hoping there will be a way to bring the town together.

Sessoms said he didn’t want to disparage the council members who voted not to renew Whitaker’s contract for the job.

“I am not trying to be negative,” he said. “I respect their intentions.”

However, Sessoms added that he believes it was a huge mistake for the council not to renew the contract of Whitaker, who has run the town for the past 12 years,    According to Sessoms, Whitaker was a terrific asset to Summerfield and its residents, and he hates to see him go.

“I am biased,” he said. “I think he’s done an excellent job.”

The mayor added that the resignation of the town’s staff due to Whitaker’s termination cost Summerfield an invaluable amount of leadership experience and knowledge.

Sessoms said he has been trying to persuade some staff members to stay but he added that many have already accepted offers elsewhere.

“They have offers and have accepted and have start dates,” the mayor said of many of those who gave their two weeks’ notice several days ago. “These are people we were blessed to have.”

Mayor Sessoms said he read one time that 84 percent of people didn’t like their jobs but he added that, clearly, that wasn’t the case with the dedicated team that’s now leaving the town’s administration.

“These are 10 people who loved what they did,” Sessoms said.

He also said that, even when new employees are found to fill the vacated positions, they won’t have the intimate knowledge of the town’s workings provided by the years of experience of the long-time town employees.