David Leister resigned as mayor on Friday to run for Pickens County tax commissioner in the Republican Party’s July 31 primary.
Leister was the only one to enter the race for the Republican primary.
The seat is now held by Sharon Troglin, who said she plans to run for re-election as an independent.
Nelson has a population of roughly 1,300 people and sits on border of Pickens and Cherokee counties just north of Ball Ground.
Leister notified the Nelson City Council of his plans in an email at 3:35 p.m. Friday.
“I would like to share with you my decision to step aside as mayor effective immediately,” he said.
Leister didn’t allude to his plans to run for the tax commissioner position.
Along with the council, Leister also informed Cherokee County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens, Pickens County Commissioner Robert Jones, City Attorney Jeff Rusbridge, City Clerk Brandy Edwards and Police Chief Heath Mitchell.
Leister was elected in 2009 and his term as mayor had been filled with controversy.
The tension began in spring 2010 when the mayor fired Chief Mitchell without, according to some council members, just cause. Mitchell was subsequently rehired by the council.
However, Leister continued to butt heads with other personnel, and in August, the council stripped Leister of some powers after a dispute over his handling of city personnel issues. The council amended its charter to remove powers granted to the mayor with regards to hiring, firing and overseeing employees. Those powers were turned over to the council.
It also amended the code of ordinances to strike the mayor’s authority to change, cancel, reschedule or move to a new location a regular meeting.
The stalemate led to former City Council member Paul Feldman resigning after serving less than a year on the council.
Leister’s feud also extended to the Nelson Planning and Zoning Commission. The council had charged the commission to work with the Cherokee County government to figure out how they could utilize parks bond proceeds to enhance their recreational offerings.
Leister accused the commission of keeping information from him and criticized them for his not being invited to attend its meeting to talk about ways to bring more recreational opportunities to the city.
In January 2011, Leister refused to swear in the commission because of differences he had with members, whom he accused of not wanting to work with him after he expressed belief that they had been withholding pertinent city business from him.
In February, he requested the City Council remove commission members Mike Haviland and Lamar Kellett for “violation of oath of office” after he said they refused to hand over information to him.
The council, citing budgetary constraints, voted earlier this month to reduce the number of times the commission could meet.