After two years in the position and in the wake of a controversial fight over the inclusion of the Pledge of Allegiance at Town Board meetings, Beth McGee is resigning from her post as Enfield Town Supervisor. UPDATE: McGee did not submit her letter or resignation, but intends to before the end of March.
After serving on the Town Board for four years, she was elected to Town Supervisor in 2017. Her resignation would take effect on April 30, 2020. McGee said she's told certain member of the Town Board and that they are disappointed, but added that her decision to leave the supervisor role is final.
"I am so grateful for the last two years of being supervisor," McGee said. "The board was amazing, and we really had some forward thinking and moved Enfield light years ahead from where we've ever been. I'm really, really grateful for the board members who participated in that way with me. It can't be that way forever, and I recognize that. I felt very proud of my community."
It's been a turbulent time for Enfield since the start of 2020, as the Town Board's decision to remove the Pledge of Allegiance from its regular meeting agenda roiled local residents. McGee supported the move, which was introduced by Town Board member Stephanie Redmond. After several meetings, the Town Board decided to include language on the meeting agenda that would invite members of the public to say the Pledge of Allegiance "if you so choose" during the public comment portion of the meeting.
"The fact that we just spent two months out of 12, with a very long agenda of things to get done in the year, listening to people complain about the Pledge of Allegiance for hours, I like to be more productive than that," McGee said. "I feel that there are better places for me to use my energy and my optimism."
Despite the timing, McGee said she wanted to separate her decision from the pledge issue, claiming she'd been thinking about stepping away for some time.
"This isn't really why I'm leaving," McGee said of the pledge debate, while acknowledging that it could be perceived that way and that the debate did represent a shift in the general way the Town Board handles and debates issues. "I always look to be expeditious with my time and the time of others and to get things done efficiently. The fact that I just wasted two months focusing on this petty issue [...] There's a lot of grandstanding there, and to me that's a waste of time. I like information, I like to have conversations based on facts, not emotional issues or trying to pit our community against one another. "
Further, McGee said friction with other departments in the town government, particularly the highway department, as well as with the Town Board, had contributed to the decision, leaving her feeling hamstrung in her ability to rectify problems impacting residents. Perhaps most importantly, McGee said she'd been hired as the first executive director of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) - Finger Lakes, an organization close to her heart.
"It's time for me, this is my sixth year, to move on," McGee said. "I don't know if the organizations in the town that I care about, like the fire company or the Grange, have any interest, after the whole pledge debacle, in having me help them, but staying plugged into my community, I would enjoy doing that. But as far as managing the circus full of monkeys that is the town, it's not sparking joy, let's put it that way."
Importantly, McGee doesn't feel like she's being chased out of her office, either by others in government or by the public that opposed her leadership during the meetings about the pledge issue.
"There's movement that's happening in Enfield, and I don't need to be at the helm of it," McGee said. McGee also said she has at least one person in mind that she would like to see take over her spot, either in an interim basis or permanently, but wouldn't name them.
"We still have a lot on our plate, there are still a long list of things that I'm really passionate about getting straightened out for Enfield, and I do think my energy towards those things is really important," McGee said. "I also feel like I can be a royal pain from the chairs as well as from the table and inform people of what I know about topics and even advise if people were interested."