Eric Monday, Martinsville’s City Attorney and Assistant City Manager is set to retire from the
city Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, a day after the celebration of his 20th year with the city.
“It is a genuine honor, and most days, a pleasure to serve as city attorney for the people of
Martinsville,” Monday said, and added that he wishes residents and the next council success in the upcoming year and the years that will follow.
Later, Monday addressed the council members.
While he and councilman Danny Turner have “not always seen eye to eye on issues,” Monday
said he has enormous respect for Turner and his love for the city.
“Particularly in your service as mayor you did all the things a mayor is supposed to do and a lot
of our mayors in the past haven’t done. Every tree planting, every ribbon cutting, every flag
raising, every ceremony, every recognition of a veteran, and opening of a small business you
were there,” he said.
Monday said working with Jennifer Bowles, who he considers a friend, has been a pleasure.
“Your commitment and love for this city has also come through consistently through your eight
years of service here,” he said.
Monday said what Bowles has done for the city’s Black community is notable.
“It was you that enabled Martinsville to be the very first community in this entire state that got
every historic black cemetery recognized,” he said.
One of his true pleasures was helping Bowles address what he considered to be more than 70-years of injustice by recognizing the Martinsville Seven.
“I hope there has been a little bit of balm poured into a wound that has been in our community
entirely too long,” Monday said.
He made the comments after the Martinsville City Council voted to terminate his contract, effective January 2.
At the Dec. 13 meeting, Bowles cited plans of the new council as the reason for her motion. She added that she did not believe there was any wrongdoing on Monday’s part.
“You’ve been hardworking, for me, ethical, understanding, during all the time I’ve worked with you these past eight years. I reflect back on our most recent collaboration with the Martinsville Seven. We had very honest and direct conversation on how we wanted to see our city progress and move forward and I’m just thankful that you worked with me, and we were able to get that done. Our new council has indicated they want to go in a different direction.
Mayor Kathy Lawson said that at the Virginia Municipal League Conference in October, she asked the VML Attorney a question and was asked which city she represented. When she responded, the VML attorney said, “Oh, you have Eric Monday. You have the best.”
“Eric has served the city with honesty and integrity and has been nothing but outstanding as he has served us,” Lawson said. “He gave up his private practice to serve our city. He is in the top one percent of attorneys in the Commonwealth, having been chosen as a Virginia Law Foundation Fellow. I agree with Jennifer, we do need to wipe the slate clean because we’ve all heard the rumors.”
Monday, Lawson said, is “going to be a very valuable employee for someone, and it will be with remorse that I make my vote.”
Turner, a former mayor, asked how long the city would have to find a new city attorney, since it is a legally required position.
Monday said the new council can appoint any city officers it deems necessary at its organizational meeting in January.
Council member Chad Martin said his vote was not cast lightly. He added that one of his first experiences with Monday was sharing his frustrations about council, to which Monday pulled him to the side and “talked to me straight up.
“There are some people who do not like the truth and when you are a person that shoots straight from the hip, they do not know how to handle that,” Martin said. “I appreciate your honesty. I appreciate you being straightforward. You don’t have to guess what’s on your mind because you say what’s on your mind, and that is so refreshing.
“You have had very wise counsel which I appreciate more than anything else. You have come to be somebody that I consider to be a friend,” Martin said, and expressed remarks similar to those made by Lawson.
“To find out that other city attorneys call him for his opinion on matters in their cities speaks volumes to who you are,” Martin said.
The vote was unanimous.
“In my position, the one thing I appreciate more than anything is when I ask a question, I get an answer,” City Manager Leon Towarnicki said. “Sometimes, it’s not exactly what I want to hear, but it’s the answer and I know it’s the truth. And in my line of work and whoever sits in position it is critical to have that kind of interaction with your attorney.”
Monday said it was a pleasure to work with Towarnicki and each council member during his 20 year tenure.
He noted that Towarnicki “is the most drama free man I have ever seen, and there’s been a lot of drama in the city manager’s office in the past. So, it has been a genuine honor to work with him.”
Then, addressing the council and city residents, Monday said, “it has been a genuine honor and, most days, a pleasure to serve as city attorney for the people of Martinsville. This is my hometown, I do love it, and I wish the citizens and the next council every success in the coming year and every year to come.”
In other matters, the council:
*Heard a favorably report from Robinson Farmer Cox Associates about the audit from the last fiscal year that ended June 30.
*Recognized outgoing council members with resolutions/plaques to Danny Turner and Jennifer Bowles, for their service and contributions to the city, as well as Ashby Pritchett, who will retire at the end of the year from his elected position as Martinsville Circuit Court Clerk; retiring Martinsville Police Chief Eddie Cassady and Ted Anderson, who is retiring at the end of the year as the city’s fire chief.
*Recognized the Anchor Commission for its 50-years of service to the community.