EARLY — David Gray said Early’s mayor is “a great citizen” whose heart is in the right place.

“I just disagree with the way the city is being run by the mayor,” Gray said Wednesday after informing Mayor Bob Mangrum he is resigning from the Early City Council, effective immediately. Gray’s decision surprised Mangrum and other members of the City Council.

“I don’t want to bad-mouth anybody. I don't want to change this into a Bangs, Texas,” Gray said. “ … We have a difference in opinion of how you should serve a small town.”

In a letter to Mangrum dated July 23, Gray wrote, “It is with deep regret that I find myself in direct opposition with the direction you and the majority of the Early City Council have taken our community in recent weeks. I am not inclined to play politics with the business of the City of Early or with my relationships with those elected or paid to serve our city.

“In my opinion, in many ways, that is exactly what is happening now and I cannot be a party to that way of doing city business.

“It has become apparent to me that although we may have a similar purpose for serving our community, we have a very different view of how to actually represent the viewpoints of those who elected us in the first place.”

Gray and Mangrum had disagreed over whether the city should build a new water plant and continue treating its own water, or abandon its existing water treatment plant, install a new water line from the Brown County Water Improvement District’s water treatment plant and buy treated water.

After debate that streteched over several council meetings, the council voted on June 24, witih Gray dissenting, to abandon the water treatment plant and install a new water line.

Gray said in an interview that he didn’t think Mangrum made sure council members understand issues related to the water issue, led discussions or created “an interest in the citizenry.”

“What (Mangrum) did not do, in my opinion, was make sure (information) was digested and that it was publicized,” Gray said.

Mangrum said he wishes Gray well. “David has served long and hard and we will mess him on the council,” Mangrum said. “We commend David Gray for his long service to the city and wish him the best. … We weren’t expecting that at all.”

Mangrum declined further comment.

Council member Janice Bush said she was sorry to hear Gray is resigning. “Oh, my. I had no idea and I am really sorry. He is a great council person,” Bush said. “I am just floored. He’s always informed and asks great questions.”

Bush said she thought the council had been sufficiently informed before voting on the water issue. “In my opinion the mayor’s done a great job,” she said. “I’ve been impressed with how he’s handled (matters). I support the mayor, and I’m surprised that David’s leaving. I didn’t know he felt that way.”

Allcorn said, “I didn’t know there was a problem. All I can say is, I was shocked and have not had an opportunity to visit with him.”

Gray first served on the council council during Mayor James Lewis’ administration, and resigned when he temporarily moved out of town. After moving back, he was elected back to the council in 2005 and re-elected in 2007. He and his wife, Darlene, own Darlene’s Cutting Edge Barber Shop and Salon.

Gray said he’ll stay active in the community. “I’m not going to disappear,” he said, adding he’ll get involved in economic development matters.