A hasty vote in Addison?

By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
The Addison Township Board of Trustees had their July meeting on the evening of Monday the 19th. While the posted agenda was light on discussion topics, the meeting ran for almost an hour due to extensive public comments following the partial-term replacement appointment of Charles “Chuck” Sargent’s trustee seat. Sargent died in June.
Three people submitted applications for the seat, but before any of them could present themselves to the board — and the audience in attendance — Trustee Ed Brakefield made a motion to approve Jacob Newby to fill the empty seat.

Jacob Newby

Newby’s application was made to the board’s attention around 4:45 p.m. that day, according to Trustee Karen Geibel. When Geibel brought up her concerns regarding such a hasty approval of Newby when two other candidates were on the table and none had been discussed, Township Supervisor Bruce Pearson was quick to try shutting down discussion of the point. Treasurer Lori Fisher raised similar concerns and was equally shut down.
Despite not considering any of the other candidates for the position, the board voted on Newby’s appointment. Fisher and Geibel voted “no” while Brakefield, Pearson, Trustee Linda Gierak and Clerk Pauline Bennet voted “yes.”
Members of the audience reacted negatively in response to the hasty vote. One unidentified attendee got up and declared to the Oxford Community Television camera that, “This board is outrageous,” while another unidentified attendee called the whole situation a “dictatorship.”
Following the tabled discussion of how the township would use American Rescue Plan funds (infrastructure such as broadband extension was a common consideration), various members of the township voiced their concerns over the conduct of the meeting. The two most common complaints regarded the swift appointment of Newby — typically from supporters of Ron Renaud, one of the candidates who were not considered — and the enforcement of an ordinance regarding docks along Lakeville Lake.
“You should allow somebody to speak and tell you what they can do for this community rather than just appointing somebody that you like,” Renaud said. “I think it is very sad that Mr. Bakersfield went right away appointing someone rather than saying ‘Let’s listen to the three candidates that we have available.’”
Residents along Lakeville Lake say they are being sued by the township over their docks violating Addison Township Code of Ordinances section 13.03 which states docks for residential homes cannot exceed 35 feet in length or six feet in width.
“We humbly came here with a proposal asking (the ordinance) to be updated because the ordinance is 30 years old, only to have it shut down by the planning commission without even any public discussion,” Mike Bartlett, a director for the Lakeville Lake Property Owners Association, said. “It is very similar to how this appointment just happened. The whole concept of public government is having open dialogue and having the opportunity to listen to your constituents and then actually serve them.”
Pearson took time before the meeting adjourned to address concerns over the ordinance and Newby’s appointment.
Pearson defended the township’s lawsuits against lakeside residents by explaining that the decision came down to either him being sued for not doing his job or the residents being sued for breaking the law.
“I was advised that if I did not handle the dock ordinance that I would be taken to court for malfeasance in office because I didn’t enforce a duly registered ordinance,” Pearson said. “I am the executive branch. I have to enforce the ordinance. It’s either I have to go and defend myself why I am not adhering to the law or I enforce the law.”
He explained Newby’s appointment by appealing to his history in local government and his familiarity with ongoing issues.
“I was looking for somebody who could walk right into this job,” Pearson said. “I have grants right now with CISMA that Trustee Sargent was working on and it’s a big grant. It is for our invasive species and I don’t want to lose that. I have someone that could go right to that meeting who knows about those. I have someone who can go to SEMCOG who knows about that. I have someone who can go to the hazmat who has handled the hazmat. Those are jobs that Chuck handled and we’re gonna miss him, but I have somebody that has to pick up the pieces and go to that. … Jacob also handles that and he’ll do that, and that’s what we need at this point.”
Another point Pearson stressed was that Newby lives in the Lakeville area and that he would add a Lakeville voice to a board that is predominantly filled with Leonard-area residents.

3 responses to “A hasty vote in Addison?”

  1. I attended this meeting to hear from the three candidates interested in becoming a Board Trustee. Instead of that, the Chairman and his buddy rammed through the nomination and vote to seat another buddy, Jacob Newby. We were not allowed to hear from the others. Why?

    Folks – Addison Township is not much different from Cuba when we let politicians do these kinds of things. The way to address this is to recall those who operate without the input of the people. Cronyism should not be allowed!

  2. I also attended this meeting, it was an embarrassment to residents how these candidates were treated and not even allowed to introduce themselves or offer reasons how they could serve our community. It was truly a disgrace how this was managed for the people they are to be serving, it was something you would expect in another country, not America.

  3. best thing is to vote them OUT ! T hat is a disgrace.term limits . They all did this with the dock ordinance when the people on the lake voted 27 to 4 for the new structure. put a class action suit on them.9⁹

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