by Julie Brown Patton
Despite Fenton Mayor Bob Brasses nominating a new-to-the-mix resident for an aldermen vacancy, the new nominee was nixed by a 4-3 opposing board vote at a special meeting held June 27.
In attempt to resolve a voting sequence impasse that has occurred since April 25, Brasses nominated Ward 3 resident Bruce Rogers. He had recommended Robin Huels for the spot six times prior.
“Can we leave our prejudices aside, move off the square we’re stuck on, and do what’s best for citizens?” posed Brasses at this seventh special meeting he’s called about filling the vacant board position.
The board vacancy occurred when Brasses was sworn in as mayor in April. He was ready with Huels as the nominee the night of his inauguration. However, four aldermen indicated they believed the seven, seated board members first should vote on the board’s three leadership positions. The mayor was open and firm about his beliefs all four wards first should have equal representation with a full eight-member board, as dictated by state statutes.
Brasses also at the same meeting asked the city attorney whether an ordinance could be created to “bundle” the nomination and identifying the three board leaders so all four slots could be voted on simultaneously. This step wasn’t agreed upon by the group.
Resident John Bubb at the meeting said the problem is with four board members who want to keep their 4-3 voting power until the next election.
“You’re trying to maintain power that voters did not give you. There’s been a lot of tooting about the word democracy. Well, it’s a representative form of government. And in this situation, there is a lack of representation without all board seats filled,” he added.
Board members still appear headed toward working with a mediator, with steps starting during July.
Board Member Susan Jokerst said mediation may be a waste of money and time. “We’ve been doing mediation, and it’s not working,” she said.
Board Member Richard Patton said he didn’t believe filling the board vacancy would change matters for the better. Citing mayoral coercion attempts, Patton accused Brasses of disregarding the majority vote of the board.
“You’re denying the board of doing its role, diminishing it and making it irrelevant. This situation is far from normal,” he said, adding he didn’t think it was right to turn over the board’s vote to an outsider.
Alderman Joe Maurath said the obstruction to filling all ward seats is blocking the constitutional rights of every Fenton citizen.
Fenton RiverChase Pools To Be Updated
Other, typical city business also was discussed and conducted at the June 27 meeting. Board members authorized spending up to a combined $407,883 for an indoor pool play structure, resurfacing the indoor slide at RiverChase Recreation Center, painting the RiverChase indoor pool, and resurfacing the RiverChase indoor spa and children’s pool.