By STEVEN MURREY
The Madison County Council met Tuesday evening at the Madison County Government Center to adopt a resolution calling for the immediate resignation of Steve Sumner, a Republican representing District 2.
Special Resolution 2021-R-1A reads:
“WHEREAS, on or about Dec. 21, 2020, Madison County Councilman Steven Sumner was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography, a Level 6 felony, and child seduction, a Level 6 felony; and
“WHEREAS, as children are society’s most vulnerable and innocent victims of crimes, the allegations of physical and sexual abuse by Councilman Sumner are abhorrent and shocking to the conscience; and
“WHEREAS, allegations of this nature cause irreparable damage to our community and its faith in their elected officials; and
“WHEREAS, while Councilman Sumner is deserving of due process, the allegations diminish his ability to represent the 2nd District of Madison County and render the Council ineffective and unable to carry out its duties of representing the citizens of Madison County; and
“WHEREAS, the thoughts and prayers of the Council are with the victims and all of those adversely affected and suffering as a result of these allegations.
“THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Council calls for the immediate resignation of Councilman Steven Sumner, to restore faith in the leadership of the Council and to begin to heal the damage done to our community.
“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the resolution shall take effect immediately upon passage.”
The resolution was approved by a vote of 5-1, with Democrat Fred Reese casting the dissenting vote and with Sumner abstaining.
“I have no intentions of resigning,” Sumner said at the meeting. He said that other council members could not force him to resign.
Council President Ben Gale agreed that no one could force Sumner’s resignation, but said the intent was to give other council members the chance to make their voice heard.
In explaining his vote against the resolution, Reese said he wanted to let the court system handle the issue.
Councilman Anthony Emery said the council wished to give Sumner time to determine that the right thing to do was resign, and said there will be additional calls from elected officials and the public for his resignation. He also said that until the court case is solved, this will be a distraction for the council moving forward.
Under Indiana Code, Sumner can only be forced to resign if convicted; his current term is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2022.