The Mount Pleasant Village Board failed to confirm five different candidates to fill an open trustee seat on the board Monday.
Nearly all five candidates were voted down along established factions on the board. One vote, however, failed 4-2 as trustee Gary Feest maintained that he will not vote for a trustee to fill the position because the six person board forces the members to work together.
Listen to the recording here.
President David DeGroot first put up John Schneider, an attorney that has served on the public works committee. Schneider was voted down 3 to 3. DeGroot and trustees Sonny Havn and Jon Hewitt voting for him while trustees Jon Hansen, Ken Ottwaska and Gary Feest voting against him.
Hansen then put forward John Martini, a local doctor that ran for a trustee seat in the latest election, but lost. Hansen failed to be confirmed in a 4-2 vote with the yays and nays of the previous vote reversed, except Feest also voted no to Martini.
DeGroot then put forward three other candidates: Joe Maier, Bud Eastman and Anna Marie Clausen. All three motions failed with voting split the same as the vote on Schneider.
“Again although there are trustees that don’t agree with me I maintain that to serve the public interest, we have to have a full board,” DeGroot said.
This was the third time DeGroot and the rest of the board failed to reach a consensus on how to fill his empty trustee seat.
“I’m a little disappointed once again,” DeGroot said.
The trustees that have been blocking DeGroot’s choices each have their own reasons. Ottwaska has said at every board meeting that he isn’t comfortable with the candidates proffered by DeGroot because they haven’t been vetted by the board or the citizens of Mount Pleasant.
“This good ol’ boy stuff is not gonna fit here,” he said.
Ottwaska suggested getting a group of candidates and having them interview for the position before the board. Feest has also maintained that he is not sold on the board needing a seventh trustee. Though, trustee Hewitt had village clerk Stephanie Kohlhagen read a state statute that mandates six trustees and a president for a village board.
Still, Feest thinks with “good quality discussion” that the board can function with only six members, adding that the six member board requires members of each faction to work together.
“I kind of like the idea that the ‘two factions’ on the board have to play nice in the sandbox at this time,” Feest said.
With the exception of the votes for appointment of a new trustee, votes before the board have all been 6-0 and Feest called this, “Almost a breath of fresh air to me to figure that we’re not pulling shenanigans, they’re not pulling shenanigans, we’re trying to now do the village’s business.”