JOHNS CREEK, Ga. —Mayor Mike Bodker announced at a June 1 council meeting that after six months of investigation his executive aide, Craig Kidd, has been dismissed.
Kidd came under fire last December when blog and social media posts circulated that alleged Kidd used his city-owned phone and laptop to conduct personal and political business.
At the time, Bodker called for an independent investigation into the matter, which found that Kidd was in violation of city policies.
Bodker apologized to the council and citizens of Johns Creek, saying he does not intend to fill the position soon, if at all for the rest of his term.
“I am solely responsible for the daily management of the executive aide,” Bodker said. “As I reviewed the circumstances leading up to this situation, I realized I should have exercised better management.”
Accusations against Kidd first surfaced in an anonymous article on johnscreekpost.com, a blog where a small group of Johns Creek residents editorialize about matters pertaining to the City Council and local development.
The blog accused Kidd of using his city phone and laptop to recruit candidates to run in 2019’s City Council election and to do work pertaining to his role as the first vice chair of the Fulton County Republican Party. The blog obtained this information through an open records request of Kidd’s texts, emails and internet activity from January to October.
Following Bodker’s apology, Councilman Chris Coughlin, who faced three challengers in his reelection bid last fall, was willing to look on the bright side.
“The key takeaway is that through this misuse or mistake, we’ve been able to identify what we believe to be a gap in proper clarity, rules and responsibilities surrounding the executive aide,” Coughlin said. “It’s actually allowing us to grow towards better governance, transparency and fiscal discipline.”
Bodker, Coughlin and Councilwoman Stephanie Endres have been working together on a set of reforms to the mayor’s aide position.
The current city charter allows the mayor to appoint an executive aide who receives a salary in line with department heads and gives the mayor broad discretion over the duties of the aide, so long as they pertain to city business.
According to a report prepared by Bodker, Coughlin and Endres, the responsibilities of three people who have filled the role to date have varied significantly, one writing grants for the city, another serving as a liaison to the arts community.
Additionally, several duties one might associate with an executive aide now fall on other members of the city staff. An executive assistant coordinates the mayor’s calendar, the communication department writes the mayor’s speeches, and the city clerk’s office prepares meeting material, the report states.
The proposed changes to the city charter would lower the aide’s salary range to that of an executive assistant to the city manager. It would require the aide to go through an open hiring process, receive annual performance reviews and follow the same policies as other city employees.
The charter change would also give the city council oversight to the job description of the aide, limiting the mayor’s broad flexibility with the role.
While the council unanimously agreed a charter change is needed, some members questioned why the city needs the position at all.
“I don’t see a real need for this position at this point in time,” Councilman Lenny Zaprowski said. “If it’s not going to be filled for a year and a half, then why is the position needed it all?”
Editor’s note: Craig Kidd in an unpaid panelist on “The Georgia Politics Podcast,” a member program of the Appen Podcast Network. The network is a subsidiary of Appen Media Group, which also owns the Johns Creek Herald. The Herald newsroom operates independently from the Appen Podcast Network.