Morningside councilwoman resigns after red-light ticket scandal
Mayor and council notified by letter after monthly meeting Tuesday
Morningside Councilwoman Regina Foster resigned after the monthly town meeting Tuesday, town officials said.
Foster, who served on the council with her husband, Terry Foster, was also the town's police clerk allowing her legislative oversight of the department she worked for until she was fired in late December amid allegations she abused her authority. Regina Foster has denied any wrongdoing.
Mayor Karen Rooker said Terry Foster handed in his wife's letter of resignation to council members immediately after Tuesday night's meeting. Rooker said the letter did not offer an explanation for her decision. No public announcement has been made.
Regina Foster was absent from Tuesday's meeting; Rooker said at the time that it was due to illness. Regina Foster and Terry Foster could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
Rooker and other council members said the announcement came as a surprise. Regina Foster's seat is up for re-election in May, and it will be up to the council to decide whether to fill her seat in the meantime. Rooker said the council can operate with a vacant seat until voters elect a new member.
Rooker said that if another council member is unable to attend a meeting for any reason, then she is allowed at that point to vote so they still have a quorum.
"I'm just sad that it happened," Rooker said, declining to comment further.
According to Morningside Police Chief Eugene C. Mills Jr., Regina Foster was fired in December after a Maryland State Police investigation into the town's Red Light Camera Enforcement Program found evidence she may have inappropriately voided tickets. She was suspended as police clerk in October when the investigation began, but has retained the council seat she has held since 2007; she does not face any legal action to date.
Terry Foster has not been accused of wrongdoing, but several residents have questioned whether allowing a married couple to sit on the five-person council and having the police clerk serve on the legislative body that oversees the police department could lead to conflicts of interest. The council unanimously passed legislation Tuesday barring individuals living in the same house from serving together and also prohibiting town employees from holding elected office.
Mills said he just learned of the resignation Thursday.
"I think it's a good thing. The council can move on, the police department can move on, and we can go from there," he said.
Mills and Regina Foster sparred publicly over the allegations during previous town meetings, but Mills added today, "I hold no animosity towards her. I wish her the best of luck."
Vice Mayor James Ealey and Councilman Lawrence Frostbutter both said they did not know Foster was planning to resign before receiving her letter Tuesday night.
"I regret that it was necessary for her to resign," Ealey said. "But on the other hand, with all the stuff already going on, I think that was the best option for her to take."
The next town meeting is scheduled for March 15.