Reporting Meghan McCorkell
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Stepping down. Disgraced Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold resigns just days after he was found guilty of misconduct in office.
Meghan McCorkell has reaction to this political shakeup.
In a letter John Leopold says resigning is the most difficult decision he’s ever made, but many say it was the right move.
Three days after a judge found John Leopold guilty of misconduct in office–calling his behavior predatory and egregious–the county executive is stepping down.
In a letter the two-term Republican writes:
“It was a compelling and humbling experience for me to sit through two weeks of the trial and listen intently to the words expressed by the court. I acknowledge the errors in judgment I made and do not want these errors in judgment to further distract the county from its ability to move forward in a positive way.”
“I think he did the right thing, but he never did apologize when he did his statement. All he said was he acknowledged he had bad judgment over his actions. He still owes the county an apology after what he’s put us through,” said Joan Harris, former Leopold employee.
Leopold is convicted of forcing his staff to perform campaign duties and empty his catheter bag. Council members say the trial–which included tawdry details of Leopold’s sexual encounters–has been a major distraction.
“There’s been a cloud hanging over the county for a long time. I think it’s fueled a cynicism in our county government among the people in the county,” said councilman Jamie Benoit.
The county council planned to vote on emergency legislation Monday that would have removed Leopold from office. That legislation will now be withdrawn.
“Phase one was making sure that he was no longer in office and the second phase is obviously filling the vacancy. And I’m relieved that the first phase is over and behind us and now we can focus on the second one,” said Jerry Walker, council chair.
Now the process begins to find a new person to take over the help in Anne Arundel County.
The county council has 30 days to fill Leopold’s seat with another Republican. They will accept applications and hold a public hearing.
Leopold did not comment on his future plans.
“If he was found guilty of a crime then it’s right for the public official to step down, not waste the taxpayers’ money in fighting it,” an Anne Arundel County resident said.
“I really do hope that he gets jail time. I think he deserves to reflect on what he did and be punished for what he did, to send a message for everybody in the future,” Harris said.
John Leopold will be sentenced March 14.
Chief Administrative Officer John Hammond will remain Acting County Executive.