Englewood

Challenge to Englewood mayor triggers walkout

Three members leave, refusing to back proposal that could have unseated Joe Jefferson

Posted 1/18/17

The Jan. 17 Englewood City Council meeting ended abruptly when three members left the meeting because they refused to vote on a proposal that could have resulted in the immediate election of a new …

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Englewood

Challenge to Englewood mayor triggers walkout

Three members leave, refusing to back proposal that could have unseated Joe Jefferson

Posted

The Jan. 17 Englewood City Council meeting ended abruptly when three members left the meeting because they refused to vote on a proposal that could have resulted in the immediate election of a new mayor and mayor pro tem.

Near the end of the meeting, at-large Councilmember Steve Yates made the motion to either confirm the current leadership of the council - in which District 1 Councilmember Joe Jefferson serves as mayor and District 4 Councilmember Rick Gillit serves as mayor pro tem - or to hold a new election for the two positions. In Englewood, the mayor and mayor pro tem are chosen from among the ranks of council in a vote by the seven councilmembers.

There were some heated exchanges and, when a vote was called on the proposal, at-large Councilmember Rita Russell walked out, as did Jefferson and District 3 Councilmember Laurett Barrentine, meaning no formal action could be taken due to lack of a quorum. Gillit then adjourned the meeting.

Yates said he was making the motion to see if members of the council were satisfied with the current management of the meetings.

He said a yes vote on his motion would retain the current leadership of Jefferson as mayor and Gillit as mayor pro tem, while a no vote would allow the council to hold new elections for both positions. At-large Councilmember Amy Martinez seconded the motion.

Jefferson's face reflected his response as he said he was surprised by the motion. He said if there were concerns about the management, they could have better been addressed in private conversations.

Yates said he had talked with the mayor about the fact that he was dissatisfied with how the council sessions were managed.

Martinez said she too had private conversations with Jefferson about the mayor moving forward with his proposal to speak at a state-of-the-city event without including the council in the planning.

Jefferson disagreed, saying, "This is just unbelievable, and needless to say I'll be going to the public with this."

Barrentine said she was shocked at Yates' proposal.

"This is not the professional way to deal with this issue," she said. "I have disagreed with the mayor on countless issues, but he has always been respectful and made an effort to let everyone have his say."

Russell also disagreed with the proposal.

"It is not right to conspire like this behind someone's back," she said. "There is no reason to remove the mayor and this action will not make the fact the seven of us can't agree to disagree go away."

A couple of exchanges got heated. When the vote was called, Russell got up and said she was leaving because she refused to vote on the proposal. Barrentine also stood and left the dais. Jefferson too left the dais, and as he was leaving he said, "You are cowards" as he pointed to Yates and Martinez.

Yates, Martinez, District 2 Councilmember Linda Olson and Gillit remained on the podium. But since there was no longer the charter-required quorum of five members, Gillit adjourned the meeting.

After the meeting, City Manager Eric Keck said he had never seen anything like the actions at the meeting in all his years of public service.

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