LEMOORE — Lemoore Mayor Eddie Neal is concerned that some of his fellow Council members are trying to oust him from his position, a claim those council members are denying.
Neal reached out to the Sentinel recently to express concern about information he received about three other Lemoore Council members who were considering a realignment of the Council at its next regular meeting on Tuesday, May 21.
“I have been informed that the council wishes to remove me, the current Mayor Edward ‘Eddie’ Neal, with three votes from Council Members Billingsley, Brown and Lyons,” Neal said in an email.
Neal said during a conversation with Councilman Dave Brown that took place earlier this month, Brown warned Neal that the Council would realign at the May 21 meeting and allegedly asked him to step down as mayor and cite health reasons so the Council would not have to realign.
Neal believes the three Council members are trying to remove him from the mayoral position due to a perceived alliance between Neal and Council member Holly Blair, who has been under fire for her conduct as a council member.
“There’s word out there that I can’t handle Blair or that I’m not in control of the Council,” said Neal, who is four months into his two-year term as mayor.
These are claims Brown vehemently denies.
Reached by phone Monday, Brown said he did talk to Neal about his health and, out of concern, gave him some advice.
“I said, ‘If something is illing you, just like if it was illing me, get rid of it’,” Brown said, adding he has known Neal for many years and genuinely cares about him.
Besides that, Brown said he in no way asked Neal to step down as mayor, has not talked to other Council members about realignment and does not know where this information is coming from.
Neal said he received text messages from the city’s former mayor, Ray Madrigal, calling him “a fool” as he allegedly warned Neal to “get away” before being “hit with the shrapnel.” Neal said Madrigal named Billingsley, Brown and Lyons as the votes intended to remove him.
When asked about this claim, Madrigal said he wished to make no comment.
Councilman Stuart Lyons’ only comment was that he did not have any discussions about realignment with any of the other council members, and was only made aware of the issue when it was mentioned to him by Neal.
Mayor Pro Tem Chad Billingsley did not immediately return a call for comment Monday.
Brown said that the only issue he has with the Council and its meetings are the out-of-order outbursts that have been going on recently.
“Council meetings need to be consistent,” Brown said. “We need to treat everybody the same — no matter who they are, their background or where they come from.”
Brown said the city has been through a lot lately and it’s “heartbreaking and sad” to see things get to this point. He said the citizens of Lemoore deserve to have smooth meetings.
Neal wanted to remind the public that he just wants to move the city forward and has no alliance whatsoever with Blair, something he said his voting history proves. He said he is merely trying to work with her, like the judge ordered.
He said his alliances have always laid with God, his family, the Constitution of the United States and California, and the diverse population of Kings County where his family live and serve in Lemoore.
“If I am unseated as mayor, it would be a great disservice to the more than 3,000 voters who elected me at-large, giving me the most votes in Lemoore’s history,” Neal said. “If I am unseated as mayor, it would also be great disservice to Kings County as I am the first African American to be appointed to this position. If I am unseated as mayor, it would be a great disservice to my wife and children who are innocent with me.”
Neal requested letters of support be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and the city of Lemoore. He also requested citizens attend the May 21 meeting to voice their support or concerns. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. inside Council Chambers, 429 C St.