Four Fenton aldermen and new Mayor Bob Brasses remain in gridlock about a disputed procedural issue that affects representation and potential control among the city’s board members.
A board quartet wants to elect the group’s three leaders among the current seven members before first filling the board vacancy created by former alderman Brasses becoming mayor in April.
Many Fenton residents who have spoken about this matter in recent public meetings support first filling the vacancy so all wards have equal representation through a fully occupied eight-member group.
At press time, Brasses planned to personally fund and send a postcard to residents to alert them to a petition regarding perspectives about securing a complete, eight-member board.
At a May 9 special meeting, the third called in back-to-back weeks by Brasses to recommend his same appointee for the Ward 3 vacancy, the same four aldermen again voted against ratifying the nominee, Robin Huels. Those aldermen are Richard Patton, Chris Clauss, Andrew Sobey Jr. and Paul Seemayer.
Unlike the prior two special meetings, Brasses first handled city business on that evening’s agenda before addressing the bone of contention regarding the nomination. However, the subsequently scheduled 7 p.m. regular board meeting again was suspended by Brasses in support of his stated belief that all wards deserve full representation before board leadership votes are taken.
One key alderman role at stake is the board presidency, which is the person who conducts city board meetings in absence of mayors and casts deciding votes in split board decisions.
Alderman Richard Patton stated only elected board members – compared to appointed ones – voted on the city’s three board leadership positions in the past. He points to incidences that occurred in 1995 and 1993 as precedents for that stance.
City Attorney Erin Seele confirmed there are no written Fenton board policies, codes or rules for when a Fenton mayor appoints nominees for vacancies. She said in these cases, city governments then follow state statutes, which merely indicates mayors shall call special meetings to fill vacancies when necessary.
Brasses now maintains certain board members are blocking the nomination vote until the board leadership roles are filled because that helps them maintain control over the board.
A 40-year resident, John Bubb, said he believed it was “nonsensical” for certain board members to claim their reason for opposing the vacancy vote was to follow rules that don’t even exist.
Fenton resident for the past 32 years, Terri Cissi, said she’s tired of being disappointed by elected officials.
“Here we are again in the public’s eye. Some are acting stubborn and childish. Why not get all seats filled? That’s what makes sense,” posed Cissi. “You (four aldermen) owe residents an apology for your behavior. This must be about who you want to fill these positions. Seat them and get to real city business.”