FAIRFIELD, Ala. – Fairfield Mayor Kenneth Coachman placed a harassment warrant against the City Council President Darnell Gardner through the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office in Bessemer on Friday, August 16, 2013 after receiving threats of harm. The day before, Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies were called to Fairfield City Hall around 7 p.m. to investigate the report. During the special call meeting held Thursday, August 15 about the Fairfield Housing Authority things seemed to turn personal. Conversations shifted away from the Housing Authority and more onto the mayor.
The incident wasn’t the first time that Coachman and Gardner bumped heads since the men have continuously battled for legal authority to supervise the council in addition to other issues. Last year, Gardner filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the mayor, who had been presiding over the council meetings since the new council took office Nov. 5, 2012. In his second term as mayor, Coachman argued that Fairfield’s form of government must change because the city’s population dropped below 12,000 in the 2010 federal census. He cited a state statute, which says the mayor should preside over the city council in any city or town in Alabama with a population less than 12,000. Ruling that Gardner should preside over the council meetings and that the mayor should not be allowed to vote with the council, Circuit Court Judge Eugene R. Verin ruled in Gardner’s favor. Since he was aware of the census results, the judge said the mayor could have sought to have the Alabama Legislature amend or replace the law.
“It has been a silent problem since this administration started, but I just move about my way,” Coachman said. He acknowledged the long-standing resentment between the two. “I know it exists but I just do what I have to do and move on.”
Chief Deputy Randy Christian said that Gardner is expected to surrender on the charge, with his bond being set at $500.