Archive for Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Bennett resigns from Tonganoxie City Council position

November 20, 2019

A Tonganoxie City Council member announced his resignation effective immediately at Monday’s regular meeting, but how he will be replaced — and when — still is in limbo.

Dave Bennett made his announcement at the beginning of Monday’s meeting.

Bennett said “certain developments in my personal life” in the last two weeks regrettably forced him to submit his resignation, effective immediately.

A former Tonganoxie City fire chief, Bennett was appointed to the City Council in April 2018 to fill a vacancy after Jamie Lawson stepped down.

Bennett cited more responsibilities with his new position at work and that he learned in the last two weeks that his number of grandchildren will be doubling.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve with you folks on the council,” Bennett said. “I appreciate the job that you do.

“We’ve made a lot of tough decisions in the last 16 months. I appreciate the job you guys have done. It takes a lot to sit up here.”

Bennett also thanked and commended city staff for their work.

Council President Rocky Himpel thanked Bennett for his time on the governing body.

“We’re going to miss your experience and knowledge,” Himpel said.

Himpel led the meeting as council president with Mayor Jason Ward absent.

Bennett shook hands with fellow council members and others before leaving the meeting. Council members worked through their agenda and then discussed how and when to appoint Bennett’s replacement during the city council/council president agenda.

Though there’s no official policy on appointing new members to finish out unexpired terms, the council must make a decision within 60 days.

Discussion about the speed at which to make the decision was a departure from the process for the council’s last appointment.

Former Council Member Kara Reed resigned in 2018 due to her moving outside of city limits. Reed announced her pending resignation several weeks in advance with the hope that it would give the council ample time to appoint someone and that she could assist in selecting her replacement before she resigned Nov. 5, 2018.

Fellow members, however, wanted more time before an appointment was made. The smaller council appointed Lisa Patterson nearly a year ago to the day on Nov. 21, 2018.

Council Member Curtis Oroke said the timing of this appointment is unique because it’s just 13 days after the last election. Patterson won one of two seats with 39 percent of the vote. Jake Dale won the other seat with 28 percent. Oroke and Zachary Stoltenberg received 17 and 16 percent of the vote, respectively. Oroke again stressed that the timing of the resignation near the last election should have a bearing. He didn’t favor a motion to make a decision on Jan. 6, which would be the first meeting for the new council.

“Was it fair to the people who spent the money?” Oroke asked, referring to candidates in the November election.

The council approved an application deadline of Dec. 27, but didn’t reach consensus on an appointment date.

Patterson continued to voice concern about making a decision before that as breaking from precedent.

The council eventually voted, 3-1, with Oroke casting the dissenting vote, to take applications until Dec. 27. Loralee Stevens said that would give interested applicants more time with the holidays to decide whether to apply. The council could not come to a consensus on when to make the appointment.

Bennett’s term was to expire in January 2022.


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