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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Former Ocala City Council president Mary Rich ‘clears name,’ lends support to City Manager

Former Ocala City Council president Mary Sue Rich made a passioned plea to clear her name after her words were misconstrued by a resident.

Rich, who served the city of Ocala for 24 years, made the comments during the Tuesday, July 20 regular meeting of the Ocala City Council.

“I basically came up here to clarify my name. Mr. Fiorello, said that I said ‘fire Sandra.’ And I did. If she was not doing her job,” said Rich during comments. Rich made reference to Glen Fiorello, who suggested during the July 6 meeting and again during Tuesday’s meeting that Rich had previously condoned firing Ocala City Manager Sandra Wilson. 

“I also must not have communicated good enough when I asked you to follow Mary Sue Rich’s request regarding the hiring of Sandra, that if you don’t like her performance, you can fire her. I came here and said exactly that the last meeting,” said Fiorello a few minutes before Rich took to the podium. 

Rich explained how she felt about Wilson’s performance and why Fiorello had mischaracterized her words. 

“She’s doing an excellent job running this city, and I don’t see why we have to bring this up each week…I just thought I’d come and say my two cents worth. As long as Sandra is doing a good job, and she is following her contract, I don’t think we need to discuss it,” said Rich.

She explained again that although she did say to “fire” Wilson if she didn’t perform the job adequately, 

“But right now she’s working on her contract and she’s doing a phenomenal job,” said Rich. 

Rich said she believed fired Ocala Fire Rescue Chief Shane Alexander was not qualified for the position of City Manager, but that he should “wait his turn” regardless. 

“I have all the respect in the world for Shane Alexander. But as a fire chief, I don’t think he qualifies for this position. And if he does, he should wait his turn,” said Rich, citing Wilson’s contract expiration in the fall of 2022. 

Ocala City Council members voted 3-2 to deny the a surprise motion by Justin Grabelle to terminate Wilson’s contract during the council’s July 6 meeting. 

The City of Ocala recently announced that it is looking for nominations for the upcoming Mary Sue Rich Diversity Awards, which promote racial harmony and equality while raising cultural awareness and celebrating diversity across Marion County.