Council fails to put new member on its team

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:42

Controversy surrounding the way a councilman left results in gap on the board, By Jennifer Knocha The Vernon Township Council tried to elect a new member last Thursday, but failed after two members opted out of voting. Following the resignation of Councilman Glenn McLaughlin, a Republican, Vernon’s Republicans were tasked with offering three names to the council for their consideration. Paul Emilius, one of the three candidates selected by the township’s Republican committee, was nominated for the position by councilman Gary Grey. But when the vote was taken, Council member Valerie Seufert abstained and Councilman Richard Carson voted no. In fact, Carson announced prior to the vote that he wouldn’t agree to any of the candidates. “I would like to make it clear that I have a high personal standard for the position that I hold,” he said. “Because of this, I cannot in good conscience, vote yes to any candidate. I cannot place myself in a position that could make myself complicit to a major legal action.” During the meeting, Mayor Austin Carew mentioned the controversy regarding the resignation. “I believe that we’ve done nothing illegal or wrong or unethical for that matter.” Carew, who voted for Emilius, mentioned swearing Emilius in at the Council’s next meeting, even as audience members questioned whether the nomination could have passed. Township Attorney Michael Witt was also concerned and after a brief exit from the meeting announced that the motion to elect Emilius was not valid. Next step The council’s failure means that the township’s Republican County Committee will now choose who will fill the vacant seat and the council cannot reject that person. This circumstance was just what Councilman Gary Grey was trying to prevent when he nominated Emilius. “I thought it in the best interests of this council to make this decision and not leave it in the hands of another committee,” he said. “I truly believe that Paul (Emilius) will really do well in this position.” Vernon’s council tried to fill the vacancy left when Councilman Glenn McLaughlin resigned last month, leaving behind controversy both during his term as councilman and over his departure. Questions were raised during his term about problems with construction done at his home that may have violated local and county zoning laws. The larger controversy, however, surrounds his resignation. While McLaughlin sent a letter of resignation to members of the council and township staff on April 8, it was never given to Township Clerk Robin Kline to be formally entered into the record. A second letter, dated May 5, was given to Kline and McLaughlin’s resignation was announced to the public on May 14. The question still remains why the first letter wasn’t given to the clerk and what McLaughlin’s formal date of resignation should be. Timeline April 6: Filing deadline for candidates for municipal office to get their names on the November ballot April 8: McLaughlin resigns, Clerk is not told May 5: Letter of resignation handed to Clerk for entry into public record May 11: Vernon Republicans meet to name potential successors to McLaughlin on Township Council May 14: McLaughlin’s resignation announced to public