Perrysburg at odds on member for council
Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer
Thursday, 23 May 2013 10:26
PERRYSBURG - A tie vote derailed an expected appointment to an empty council seat Tuesday night.
Council was split 3-3 on whether to appoint Sara Weisenburger to the seat vacated by Maria Ermie at the end of April. Ermie stepped down due to health issues.
Four others - Grant Garn, James Matuszak, John Spore, and Rebecca Williams - also applied to fill the post in addition to Weisenburger. Ermie's seat is up for election this year, as are seats held by Mike Olmstead and Council President Joe Lawless. Olmstead has announced he is making a run for mayor.
Weisenburger is among three people, including Rick Rettig and Barry VanHoozen, who have announced their candidacy for council thus far.
Lawless introduced a motion to appoint Weisenburger, but immediately thereafter Councilman Tim McCarthy said that, though he did not "want to denigrate Sara's capabilities," he "strongly" believed Williams should be appointed. Williams has served on the Way Library Board of Trustees and the city's Planning Commission, and is currently on the Board of Zoning Appeals.
"She has attended more council committee and council meetings than any new councilman we've ever had," McCarthy said. "She's the most qualified person to step into this chair."
He noted that Williams is not running for a seat in the upcoming election, crediting her for wanting "to step in and do it as a matter of public service, and not a political segue, if you will, to a race in the fall."
"I felt Becky was the strongest," he said.
Tom Mackin echoed McCarthy's sentiments, saying he would vote against Weisenburger's appointment.
Williams rose to speak on her own behalf before the vote, calling herself "an informed, involved and proud citizen" who attended council meetings "not because I had an issue to resolve, not because I had an agenda.
"I just want to know what's happening in my city, I want to know why, and I want to know how it happens," she said. "Isn't that the kind of person you want to fill this seat for the next six months?
"I've done my homework," she said.
In the end, Mackin and McCarthy were joined by John Kevern in voting against Weisenburger's appointment.
Weisenburger, who with her husband had recently carried on a year-long dispute with the city over the right-of-way at their home in the 600 block of West Front Street, spoke after the vote, noting she developed an interest in joining council after discussing financial and personnel issues with Municipal Administrator Bridgette Kabat, and through her own dealings with the city.
"I've found my passion," she said.
"This is what I feel I'm meant for. I know we're at an awkward point now (due to the tie vote), but however it plays out I respect everything you guys do for the city. The city is well-run and in a great position.
"I will be a part of that. I know I'm young, I'm getting started early. I think that's a good thing."
She indicated she wishes to see more people involved in government.
The tie placed the council at a temporary impasse. According to the city charter, a council member must be appointed by a majority of council. Unlike in other city matters, the mayor cannot break a tie in these cases, and can only make an appointment to council if the seat has been vacant for 30 days.
Law Director Mathew Beredo indicated he would have to study the charter to determine how to handle the situation.
A special meeting of council has been called for 6 p.m. on Tuesday to move the issue forward.