Jensen resigns as CAO

Sparks fly at meeting
By: 
KATHLEEN GILLULY
Outlook managing editor

The question on the mind of several councilors at the Tuesday, Nov. 14, workshop meeting was what changes will January 2, 2018, bring to Laurel city government?
With the election of city employee Dave Waggoner as mayor Nov. 7, Councilman Doug Poehls asked for clarification on the mayor-elect’s eligibility.
“I want to know about the employee who won for mayor and his ability to become mayor,” Poehls said, noting that while he won’t be on the council any longer, it is still his concern.
“I’ve contacted MMIA,” said Mayor Mark Mace whose term ends Dec. 31. “He will have to chose between his city job and the part-time job of mayor.” Montana Municipal Interlocal Authority provides risk management, insurance and other services to Montana cities and towns.
Poehls said he was concerned that Waggoner would do neither and leave the city in the lurch.
“What do we do if he shows up January 2 to be sworn in and he hasn’t quit?” Poehls asked.
According to the Chief Administrative Officer Heidi Jensen, she had discussed the issue with City Attorney Sam Painter.
“There has to be a complaint from a voter in the city of Laurel,” Jensen said. Poehls said he would write the letter of complaint. Councilman Chuck Dickerson, who did not run for reelection and whose term also ends Dec. 31, said he would sign the letter.
There is an Attorney General’s opinion on the matter. Attorney General Joseph P. Mazurek ruled in 1998 that, “a public works employee or director cannot be a city council member. The positions are incompatible.”
In addition to a new mayor, Laurel voters elected Heidi Sparks as alderwoman in Ward 1 and Irv Wilke alderman in Ward III. Sparks beat out incumbent Poehls and political newcomer Evan Bruce for the seat. Wilke won the seat previously held by Dickerson. He had been challenged by Kat Stokes. In Ward IV there were no candidates vying to replace Tom Nelson, however Richard Klose reported that he had been notified by the Yellowstone County Election Office that he had received the most write-in votes. Bruce McGee had no challenger in Ward II and was reelected. Judge Jean Kerr was also reelected city judge.
In other business, Mayor Mace announced that CAO Jensen had tendered her resignation on Nov. 13. Her last day will be Dec. 8. As of the Outlook’s Wednesday print deadline, Jensen had not responded to a request for a statement.

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