Thanksgiving just came and went, and now it’s the Christmas season, but it doesn’t appear that Christmas spirit is being felt by the Summerfield Town Council. After the Town Council’s pre-Thanksgiving meeting adjourned, Summerfield Mayor Gail Dunham and other members of the council engaged in a heated exchange that continues a running theme for the town.
The latest argument was over requests by some town councilmembers and town staff that Dunham release all emails in her possession related to town business. The town asked Dunham to hand over the emails months ago but she has yet to do so.
At the Town Council’s Tuesday, Nov. 13 meeting, Dunham got into it with Summerfield Town Councilmembers Dena Barnes and John O’Day. Councilmember Reece Walker attempted to get fellow councilmembers to calm down but later he got caught up in it.
It was all captured by town resident Don Wendelken who posted the video on his “Summerfield Scoop” Facebook page.
In the argument immediately following the adjournment of the town’s Tuesday, Nov. 13 meeting, Dunham and Barnes began bickering about the emails and Dunham said the town was coming after her personal emails as well.
Barnes said, “No one wants your personal emails,” and Walker tried to stop the women from fighting.
“Ladies! Ladies! Gail! Stop. Stop,” Walker said with no results.
When Dunham persisted, Walker held up a copy of an email – presumably one related to town business that Dunham hadn’t disclosed.
“What is this right here? Is this town business?” he asked accusingly.
Dunham said she didn’t know what email he was referencing.
At that point, Councilmember John O’Day joined in, and said something to Dunham, and then those two began arguing about who was talking over who at meetings.
Dunham said, “You stop interrupting me” to which O’Day shot back, “No, you stop interrupting me when I’m talking.”
Walker again tried to calm the council members down.
“Guys, come on! Stop!” he said.
It’s just a typical day in Summerfield town government.
One poster on Facebook commented, “When does this circus leave town?” while others called the scene “Ridiculous” and “Unbelievable.”
Wendelken said that he usually stops the video recording when the meeting ends but he noticed something was happening so he kept it running.
Barnes said this week that Dunham has sown divisiveness in the town ever since she was elected mayor. Barnes also she was appalled at some of the unfounded critical claims Dunham had made publicly about town staff, especially Town Manager Scott Whitaker.
Durham said the town has not yet released all of the requested emails that it has in its possession, and she added the town must do that before she releases the ones she has. She said there are not many town business related emails in her private email account and said that those few are for the most part trivial in nature.