New County Mayor Weston Wamp has asked longtime County Attorney Rheubin Taylor to resign.
Attorney Taylor, who is 73 and has been in the post for 28 years, declined, saying he has two years remaining on his current contract and wants to stay.
County Mayor Wamp asked that County Attorney Taylor hire former General Sessions Court Judge Gerald Webb - apparently to be groomed as the future county attorney. County Attorney Taylor again declined, saying Mr. Wamp could add the former judge to his staff.
Former Judge Webb, who was the first African-American judge in General Sessions Court, lost his post in the August election to Larry Ables, a former public defender, prosecutor and chief magistrate.
The county mayor appoints the county attorney. However, the county mayor must get approval from the majority of the County Commission.
Polling by commission members has been underway, and is showing support for retaining County Attorney Taylor, it was stated.
On the other hand, Chairman Chip Baker said, "Rheubin Taylor has given valuable service to the county for many years, but there comes a time for a transition."
Chairman Baker said he had not been told that County Attorney Taylor had been asked to resign, but he said he understood that former Judge Webb is County Mayor Wamp's choice for county attorney.
Ironically, sources said Rheubin Taylor was a key factor in Mr. Wamp's narrow election victory over two strong fellow Republican candidates. Sources said attorney Taylor urged other black ministers to encourage support for Mr. Wamp in the GOP race. A blast email went out from the ministers asking support for Weston Wamp.
The move was believed to have brought in a considerable number of crossover Democratic votes for the Wamp campaign. Candidate Sabrena Smedley filed an appeal of the election based on that factor.
County Attorney Taylor has been the pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church at LaFayette, Ga., for 27 years.
He gained his law degree from Howard University School of Law. During his college years in Washington D.C. he worked in the White House and the Department of Commerce.
Upon his return to Chattanooga in 1973, he was the first African-American hired by the Crutchfield, Moore and Jenkins law firm becoming the only African-American licensed attorney in Chattanooga.
Attorney Taylor, along with Rev. Paul McDaniel, became the first African-American Hamilton County Commissioners in 1978. He was the first African-American Hamilton County Attorney.
The Wamp office was asked through policy advisor Davis Lundy for comment., but did not provide any statement.