Fenton’s elected officials may need an impartial mediator to dislodge a voting procedure logjam that’s occurred five times, starting on April 25.
For the seventh consecutive week, the city remains at seven board members, rather than eight. The issue is whether the board’s three, future leadership roles will be elected by seven members or eight. A Ward 3 seat is currently open.
Since his election in April, Mayor Bob Brasses, whose mayoral win prompted the ward vacancy, has been adamant about full government representation for all wards before choosing board leadership positions.
“Most of the time, through the city’s history, we’ve had fully seated aldermen. Some have pointed to what they call precedents from 1993 and 1995, the only two years when the leadership roles were established with seven board members before a nominee was appointed. But, for the other 23 years eight aldermen decided their leader and liaisons, maybe that’s precedent, too,” said Brasses at the fifth special meeting, called on June 6 to address the vacancy.
“When it comes to having representation from the very beginning, why wouldn’t you? We live in a representative democracy,” he added.
Alderman Paul Seemayer advocated for all board members to get along while still being able to have differences of opinions.
“We’re all holding strongly to our beliefs. It’s a procedural issue. I don’t see it changing,” he said.
“All citizens have the right to representation. I’m not about to change those values. You’re asking me to give up my morals and scruples,” responded Brasses.
Fenton resident Larry Howdershell encouraged the board to fill the empty seat as quickly as possible to get full representation.
However, Fenton resident Darlys Preslar asked why the 4-3 vote against ratifying Brasses’ Ward 3 nominee was ignored multiple times, and then disregarded as the official board vote.
Alderman Richard Patton, who voted against the nominee all possible times, now called the situation a “train wreck.”
“It’s been six weeks, but it feels like six months. The primary issue is not who is nominated. It’s that the vote of the majority of the board is not being respected,” said Patton. “Bob had every right to do the nomination the way he wanted to, but the board also had the right to not go with it. Our votes are being ignored.”
“We’re losing key people left and right, which is extremely costly. Given the chaos, who’s going to want to work here? We may be beginning to jeopardize our tax base. We risk not being a real attractive place for new businesses to come do business,” Patton continued.
City Administrator Lisa Peck Resigns After Less Than A Year
Adding further tension to Fenton’s current internal operations was the resignation of City Administrator Lisa Peck. Peck’s last day with the city is June 15.
Peck just joined the Fenton staff on July 16, 2018, after being assistant city manager of Highland, Illinois. On June 24, she becomes the new city manager of Hannibal.