Mayor-elect and mayor-select fail to attend meeting

Nelson sworn in as Laurel’s mayor
By: 
KATHLEEN GILLULY
Outlook managing editor
Outlook photo by Kathleen Gilluly. From the left is Heidi Sparks, Irv Wilke, Richard Klose, Bruce McGee and Judge Jean Kerr. The judge performed the swearing-in ceremony for the newly elected or reelected councilors.

Although it wasn’t clear after Tuesday’s Laurel City Council meeting, Tom Nelson will soon be the city’s new mayor.

Former Mayor Mark Mace called the first meeting of the year to order and performed the swearing-in ceremony for City Judge Jean Kerr who in turn gave the oath to the four newly elected council members. Of those four, Heidi Sparks, Irv Wilke and Richard Klose are new to their positions. Bruce McGee, who represents Ward II, was re-elected.

Judge Kerr was prepared to swear in the new mayor—either Dave Waggoner, who was elected in the Nov. 7 election, but is a city employee, or Tom Nelson, who ran for mayor and was defeated by Waggoner but was selected to fill the chair by the council — but neither man was in attendance.

As reported in the Outlook, Waggoner had planned as late as last Wednesday to resign his position to resolve what City Attorney Sam Painter wrote in an opinion was a conflict-of-interest, become mayor and then take up the fight over whether a city employee can also hold an elected position. Instead, he decided to decline the position, as he wrote in a letter to the people of Laurel. 

“Thank you so much for the trust you put in me by voting for me to be mayor. I am only sorry that I was not able to fulfill that trust by serving you in that office. When I initially ran I was sure I would be able to serve if elected. After becoming aware of facts I didn’t know before, I realized that it would be a conflict of interest for me to be mayor and work for the city,” Waggoner wrote in part. The letter is printed in it’s entirety on p. 4.

Although Waggoner hadn’t turned in his resignation to the city by the end of the work day Tuesday, Nelson didn’t attend the meeting because he assumed the mayor-elect was going to take the job, according to reports.

The remainder of the meeting was conducted by Emelie Eaton, council president. Unfortunately, without a mayor most scheduled items were put off until the next business meeting Jan. 16. At that time, the following appointments will be made:

Eaton, McGee, Scott Stokes and Klose will be assigned to the Budget/Finance committee; Klose, Wilke, McGee and Bill Mountsier to the Emergency Services committee; Eaton, Mountsier, Richard Herr and Sparks to the Public Works committee; Klose and Herr to the Cemetery Commission; Stokes, Wilke, and Herr to the Park Board; Herr to the Tree board; and McGee and Sparks to the Health Insurance committee. In addition to the councilors, volunteer citizens sit on each of the boards.

Two new officers have qualified for and will be appointed to the Laurel Police Reserves also. Congratulations to Johnathan Wayne Simpson and Nick Vito Buciuman.

Before adjourning the meeting, Eaton announced the Park Board will meet Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. and LURA will also meet on Jan. 22.

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