In a three to three vote, the Mount Pleasant Village Board of Trustees failed to confirm new president Dave DeGroot’s choice to fill his empty trustee seat.
The vote split along voting blocks that have formed in recent years. Trustees Gary Feest, Jon Hansen and Ken Otwaska voted against appointing John Kis to the Village Board. President Dave DeGroot, and Trustees Sonny Havn and John Hewitt voted in favor of the appointment.
Kis, an executive from Tri-City National Bank and village planning commission member, had his intentions as a village trustee and potential conflicts of interest as financial executive questioned by the dissenting commissioners. Hansen in particular pushed Kis on what he thought were potential conflicts of interest as a financial executive. He didn’t want board gridlock if Kis hypothetically had to abstain on a contentious vote.
“The conflicts are too great,” he said.
Kis Promotes Himself as Conservative Trustee
Despite the concerns, Kis said he would have no problem recusing himself from any votes that would carry a potential conflict of interest for him. He has done just that as a member of the village plan commission, he said.
“I air on the side of being conservative,” he said.
After the vote ended in gridlock, DeGroot told his colleagues that he doesn’t want them to be guilty of a negative quorum. That’s when enough members required to block passage of adoption of a resolution meet to discuss it outside of an open meeting. Feest fired back saying he made sure not to take part in a negative quorum, adding that DeGroot’s mere suggestion “just throws more fuel on his fire.”
“I think John [Kis] would probably make a phenomenal trustee after this board has had a chance to settle,” Feest said. “But, right now, things that have been occurring in this village since your election have caused me to pause.”
Specifically, during his trustee report, Feest said he was concerned about DeGroot halting the hiring process for a new village administrator.
“To unilaterally stop a process that the village board had authorized. Personally I think that’s overstepping authority,” Feest said.
Current interim Village Administrator and Police Chief Tim Zarzecki said there are seven candidates in the running. The board hasn’t done anything except review them. But DeGroot told reporters he thought the previous board was trying to “gut the responsibilities” of the village administrator, so he halted the process.
Kis on appointment gridlock
After going before the board Kis reiterated to Racine County Eye that he accepted the nomination as a “community service” and that he thought he could be an independent peace broker on a fractured board.
“There’s a huge divide here between these six people,” Kis said. “It’s three to three and they’re gonna be hammering heads against the wall for a long time.”
Kis wished the appointment would have gone differently.
“While I was up there, I was thinking ‘do I really want to do this?’” He said.
Listen to the meeting recording.