LEBANON, Missouri- Mayor Josh Ray has submitted his letter of resignation Monday in the midst of his first term as the executive head of  city government. He has cited challenges in the past weeks that were taking a toll on his family including the push for the resignation of City Administrator Chris Heard. Ray says he now will do his best to focus his efforts on serving the community and on encouraging a State audit.

This is Ray’s letter to the citizens of Lebanon in full:

“To our community:

I am writing to announce my resignation as Mayor of the City of Lebanon, effective immediately. This was not an easy decision for me to make. For over a year, I have served as Mayor and enjoyed high community approval for my efforts. I take my duties and responsibilities very seriously.

When I took a stand for the community and defended the position of mayor, I assured the town that my actions were not personal in nature. I also asserted that this was not a grab for personal power or authority. By stepping down as mayor, I can show the citizens of Lebanon that both assertions were true.

When people speak of my short tenure as mayor, I hope they will remember some of the following accomplishments:

– Mobilizing community volunteers alongside many area individuals and organizations to assist the Lebanon Middle School move.
– Serving with the community on Thanksgiving 2016 to provide a great experience to all attending the community Thanksgiving meal.
– Assisting community leaders in getting the soon-to-be-constructed Ag Arena back on the agenda after the city administration let it fall into a black hole in March/April 2016.
– Fighting hard to improve city employee morale by treating them as valued members of the City organization.
– Speaking with our youth at every possible opportunity in an effort to show them that they can, in fact, be productive and successful in our town if they choose to stay here or return after life experience.
– Pushing to end three-year union contract negotiations for the fire union and year-long contract negotiations with the police union.
– My efforts to work alongside county and city emergency services in the recent flooding and tornado emergencies, with a focus on communication with the citizens.

I have come to the realization over the past month that I can better serve this community away from the role of mayor. When you force a governing body to do something they quietly admit needed to be done, yet lacked the courage and/or morale steadfastness to do on their own, backlash can be expected. That is exactly what I got. I can no longer sit in the mayor’s chair at city council meetings and feel that I have the information readily available at my fingertips to serve the community well.

There are many city issues that have concerned me over the past 14 months. I’ve communicated those concerns to mostly deaf ears on the governing body. Most recent was my discovery last week that our city administration announced, interviewed for, and offered a job to someone for a position that as of yet does not exist. The position must be created by council action, and no action has been taken yet by council. This is endemic of a true lack of governing body oversight of city affairs, and is a continued signal to our city employees that rules are unequally applied at City Hall.

I would welcome and encourage an audit by the State of Missouri, and would gladly cooperate with that audit.

I have enjoyed serving our community and helping as many people as I could. It is time for me to serve in a much more effective way.

Sincerely,

Josh Ray