An ardent supporter of saving the historic smelter smokestacks and opponent of the controversial Millcreek annexation resigned from the City Council Friday.

John Ward, who represented the southwest part of the city in the District 2 seat, cited "serious personal problems" as the cause for his leaving. Ward was elected in November to a four-year term after staging a write-in campaign and defeating incumbent Lynn Turner."I'm famous for biting off more than I can chew," Ward told the Deseret News. "All of the things together contributed to an unhealthy situation."

In his resignation letter, Ward said his departure is the first step to put "affairs in order for myself and my family."

Ward is a self-employed public relations consultant. In the spring, he and a partner purchased the Murray Eagle and changed the name to Your Green Sheet.

Apologizing to the residents of District 2 for not completing his term, Ward said "it is out of respect for these people that I am stepping aside before my personal problems begin to affect decisions made on their behalf."

City Council Chairman Leon Robertson said the resignation came as a shock.

"He's done a good job of keeping in touch with his constituents, and he will be missed," Robertson said.

Murray Mayor Dan Snarr said being on the City Council is time consuming, so he understands the resignation.

Ward gave no indication he was thinking of leaving, the mayor said.

Snarr called him an "insightful person who brought knowledge to the council."

Ward said he doesn't anticipate seeking public office in the future but has gained a new respect for elected city officials.

"City governments touch people's lives more than any other," he said.

Councilman John Rush was elected at the same time as Ward. Rush couldn't believe it when he heard Ward resigned.

"He was always so ardent and diligent about working on the council," Rush said. "I was going to nominate him for budget chair on Tuesday."

Originally running as an opponent of the Millcreek annexation, Ward said he worried about how 1,200 more students would impact Murray's already crowded classrooms.

Under state law, Ward's position has to be filled within 30 days. Robertson said the council will probably take a few minutes at Tuesday's council meeting to set the schedule for applicants. By law, applicants must be interviewed in a public meeting.

Because Ward had more than six months left in his term, applicants have to gather 150 signatures from the district. Robertson said those interested in applying can come to the City Council office and pick up paperwork.

The resignation came 10 days after the District 1 seat on the council was filled by Richard V. Stauffer. Gary Ferrero previously held the position but stepped down July 14 to become the city's first judge in the Murray City Justice Court.