Commissioner Shaw Watson in a file photo, and his two-sentence resignation letter
SANATOGA PA – Elected Lower Pottsgrove Commissioner Shawn Watson (above), a local business owner who ran into extensively reported financial and legal troubles that ultimately created public pressure for his ouster, on Tuesday (Sept. 8, 2015) resigned from the township Board of Commissioners. His letter of resignation was promptly and unanimously accepted by the four remaining board members.
Those same four – President Bruce Foltz, Vice President Stephen Klotz, and commissioners James Vlahos and Earl Swavely – now have 30 days to seek and install Watson’s successor. Foltz, who read Watson’s letter aloud at the start of the board’s meeting, said it had been received at about mid-day Tuesday and that the board had not yet discussed naming a replacement.
Watson did not attend the meeting.
The two-sentence typed letter was brief, to the point, and offered no explanation. “Attn. President Foltz,” it began. “I would like to inform you that I am resigning my position as a member of the Lower Pottsgrove Township Board of Commissioners effective September 8, 2015. It was an honor to serve the residents that comprise Lower Pottsgrove. Sincerely, Shawn Watson.”
Both Foltz and Klotz praised Watson’s efforts to help the township move ahead, and specifically mentioned his work in organizing and promoting Lower Pottsgrove’s holiday food drive. Foltz acknowledged, however, that he received regular “public pressure, mostly at the township summer concerts” to urge Watson to step down.
“He wasn’t a bad member,” Foltz said. “He had personal problems.”
A series of stories in The (Pottstown PA) Mercury by reporter Evan Brandt detailed public records of Watson ‘s failure to pay taxes to the township and Pottsgrove School District on properties he owned in whole or part. They also documented legal charges filed against Watson in other matters, and what Brandt reported as a conviction on one charge. A final story related allegations in Watson’s attempt to win a trash hauling contract in Limerick Township.
Those articles, plus several editorials, had some local residents publicly calling for Watson’s removal from the board. They expressed their disappointment when township Solicitor Robert Brant explained the board could only suggest he resign. It did that unanimously also, last month. Watson did not respond at the time.
He wished, Foltz indicated, that Watson’s decision would have come earlier. “I gave him the fatherly talk several times. Steve (Klotz) also tried to reason with him.”
On Tuesday morning, Foltz said after the board meeting ended, he called Watson and told him commissioners would need an answer to their call for resignation, “yes or no, by today. He said he’d call back.”
“He never did. But later I got this letter,” Foltz added, as he held it up.
Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Sept. 8 meeting):