New details about Pooler City Councilman who abruptly resigned in October

Published: Nov. 6, 2023 at 6:14 PM EST
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POOLER, Ga. (WTOC) - New details Monday surrounding a Pooler City Councilman who abruptly resigned last month.

Tom Hutcherson was initially elected to Pooler City Council in 2020, but questions were raised when he stepped down less than a month before the election while running for re-election.

Monday, we’re learning back in October Hutcherson was given the choice either he could step away from his council seat or he would be removed.

WTOC found out what may have lead to that ultimatum through city documents our investigates team just received on Friday evening all of it tying back to his tennis instruction company.

Tom Hutcherson’s company website reads “clinics are available through the Pooler and Chatham County Parks and Rec Departments”

He teaches at county owned parks, like this one and is compensated by the city of Pooler. As this document shows, over the last three years he’s been paid $14,708 as a tennis instructor, with one of the more recent payments coming in May for $1,375.

In a statement to WTOC, Hutcherson’s attorney says in part quote:

“The fees generated from TH Tennis Services are used to pay staff, offset the costs of people who are not charged, equipment, and fees to Chatham County and Pooler. Pooler receives 20% of the fees charged to attendees.”

While being paid for those recreation services, Hutcherson served on city council... and as the records show, did not recuse himself from several votes on rec department improvements including a multi-million-dollar project for new tennis courts. Section 2.16 of the city’s charter says members of council are prohibited from

“Engaging in any business or transaction or having a financial or other personal interest, direct or indirect which would tend to impair the independence of his or her judgement.”

Hutcherson says he’s been running grassroots tennis programs for 25 years, far before his time on Pooler city council, and says he does it for the love of the game and kids. Adding it’s not a way to make money.

In a statement his attorney addresses the recreation improvements the former councilman voted for saying

“Mr. Hutcherson has no interest in moving his tennis classes to the new Pooler tennis facility. All of Mr. Hutcherson’s classes are held in Chatham County at the L. Scott Stell Park where he intends to remain.”

With early voting wrapped up and election day Tuesday, Hutcherson has an opportunity to get his council seat back.