Greg Miller, part-time emergency management coordinator for Crawford County, owner and operator of McHenry-Miller Abstracters and a retired firefighter with 30 years of service, was appointed to a vacant At Large seat on the Denison City Council Tuesday evening by a 4-0 vote.
The seat was vacated on June 4 by Brittany Okker, who moved from Denison. She had been appointed to the seat in April 2018 after Rachel Desy resigned to spend more time with family and to concentrate on her health during a pregnancy. Desy, an incumbent, had been elected to the four-year term in November 2017.
Miller and three others who had submitted letters by the close of business on Monday, to indicate their interest in filling the council seat, had an opportunity to further tell council members why they should be appointed. The other three are Dan Leinen, Beth Vogt and Terry long.
Miller and Vogt said they intend to run for the position when it comes up for election this November. Long said if the position comes available in November, he would try to run for the seat.
Leinen, a former council member and mayor, said he would fill the position just until the November election. He said by appointing him, the council would be giving an advantage in this November’s election by appointing a person who did intend to run.
Another person was interested in the seat but had not submitted a letter by 4:30 p.m. on Monday. Mayor Jared Beymer said he thought there had been a discrepancy and asked if the council would let Bruce Musgrave talk. Councilman John Granzen said no, and answered affirmatively when asked if the 4:30 Monday deadline was in the advertisement about filling the vacancy.
Since the meeting, some Facebook posts have questioned if the deadline was generally known.
On Friday, June 7, the Denison Bulletin and Review published the required legal notice of the council’s intent to fill the vacancy by appointment. The only date and time listed pertained to the appointment to take place at the 5 p.m. June 18 meeting.
The newspaper did not publish an advertisement other than the required legal but did publish an article in the June 11 issue that said those interested in filling the vacancy should send a letter or resume to the city clerk. A June 4 article had information about Okker’s intent to vacate the seat and that the city council intended to pass a resolution that evening to fill the vacancy by appointment.
At the June 4 meeting, council discussed that in the past people had sent a letter or resume to indicate their interest in filling a vacancy. Nothing was said about a deadline.
The 4:30 p.m. Monday deadline was listed in a post to the city’s Facebook page in the late morning on June 14.
City Clerk Lisa Koch said in an email to the Denison Review that the 4:30 deadline was only posted on Facebook as a reminder to get the letters or resumes to the city clerk.
“It has always been the practice to get agenda information in council packets no later than the close of business the day before the council meeting,” Koch wrote. “The reason there is a deadline for council items is so that we can get the information in council packets the day prior to the meeting giving them time to review it. If we send them information the day of the council meeting, they may not have time to look at it prior to the meeting.”
She continued the other reason that council didn’t allow Musgrave to speak is that all of the letters or resumes were to go through the city clerk; he did not send a letter to the city clerk. She said he did email his letter to the mayor Monday evening and that the mayor forwarded the email to the council, but the information was never put in the council packets for the meeting.
The factor of gender equity on the council was addressed at Tuesday’s meeting. In her presentation, Vogt said a woman needs to be on the city council and that is a fair way of looking at government right now.
Councilman Corey Curnyn commented that Okker said he hoped a woman would replace her on the council and that Granzen was supportive of the idea. Curnyn also believed it was the consensus of the council to have some gender equity.
“I did say that. I have no problem with that,” Granzen responded.
He added, “I think the problem I have with Beth is when we were having all our issues, that she went very personal on people in our community because they didn’t see as she saw after the investigation was done. She didn’t agree with anything that we paid $96,000 to get answers to, and it was all over Facebook and the newspaper.”
He also said that Vogt had lived in Denison for only one week.
Vogt grew up in rural Dow City but attended and graduated from Denison High School. She moved away from the area for 10 years. She said when she returned five years ago, she lived in her aunt’s house in Denison and that it was her intent to live in Denison. However, when her aunt returned, Vogt moved to Dow City.
About a week before the meeting, the residence in the Pauley-Jones-Pfannebecker Funeral Home building became available. Vogt works for the funeral home and was asked to move there.
She said her intent was to live in Denison when she returned five years ago.
Granzen also charged that Vogt stated she supported everything that Beymer has done, “even after our total fiasco. I just don’t see where you’re open-minded. I think you don’t want to come to the middle. You had your way of thinking.”
Vogt said she disagreed with that.
Granzen continued that none of the people who spoke to him about filling the vacancy had said that appointing Vogt would be a good idea. He added that she’s a possible witness in a lawsuit involving the city.
That defamation lawsuit was filed by City Manager/City Engineer Terry Crawford and Koch against Beymer and Curnyn.
Granzen later added that Curnyn didn’t want Leinen on the council because he’s also a potential witness.
After the meeting, Curnyn told the Denison Review that Grazen’s statement was incorrect, that he had not said he didn’t want Leinen on the council but that it had been the recommendation of an attorney. Curnyn would not say which attorney made the recommendation.
Councilman David Loeschen made the motion to appoint Miller, citing the need to move forward with healing. He said Vogt will have an opportunity to run in the November election and allow the voters to speak.