CHARLESTOWN — Jeff Fields, President of the Charlestown Board of Town Commissioners, announced that he was tenuring his resignation from the Board on Thursday morning.
“I basically resigned for health and personal reasons,” Fields told the Cecil Whig late Thursday afternoon, declining to elaborate further on his reasons.
Fields, who started serving as Board President in March 2020, was more than halfway through his second two-year term when he resigned. The next election for Fields’ position would have been in March 2022, had he remained in office.
With a population of approximately 1,500 residents, Charlestown does not have a mayor. In general terms, Fields and others who have held the president-of-the-town-board position have functioned as de-facto mayors for the town.
Between now and the next public town meeting, which is scheduled for July 27, Charlestown leaders will work toward filling the board opening that has been created by Fields’ departure, according to Town Administrator Bryan Lightner.
Lightner outlined that the board vice-president — a position held by Cecil County-based attorney Karl H. Fockler — will assume the position of president, replacing Fields. Fockler could not be reached by phone for comment on Thursday.
In addition, the board members will decide amongst themselves which of them will replace Fockler and serve as the new vice-president, he explained.
As for filling the opening on the five-member town board, the panel will accept job applications from Charlestown residents, according to Lightner.
“We are advertising now that there is a vacancy. We are soliciting folks who might be interested in serving. It will be up to the board members to decide among themselves who will fill the opening,” Lightner said.
He was not sure if the board members would conduct interviews with job candidates at some point before the July 27 town meeting, make a selection and then announce their choice at that meeting — or if they would pick one after discussing the candidates’ qualifications amongst themselves privately before that meeting or at some point during that meeting and then announce the outcome.
Fields, who has lived in Charlestown for more than 27 years, won his first two-year term on the town board in March 2018, garnering 116 votes, the highest among the five candidates.
According to Cecil Whig archives, Fields’ victory likely came as no surprise to anyone who drove by town hall on town on Election Day 2018 and saw him waving a sign at the corner of Market Street and Bladen Street. Fields voted three minutes after the polls opened at 7 a.m. that day and stood outside until about 6:50 p.m., nearly 12 hours.
“I think I got out a lot of votes,” he said, adding, “I figured, if I lose, it’s not going to be because I didn’t try.”
Back then, Fields ran a campaign focused on improving the town’s infrastructure and the services it provided to residents, such as increasing the frequency of bulk pickup and yard waste pickup. Retired from the Maryland Transportation Authority, Fields, at that point, had worked as a town maintenance employee for six and a half years.