Walbridge mayor, councilman quit
Written by DEBBIE ROGERS Sentinel Staff Writer
Tuesday, 15 January 2013 10:55
WALBRIDGE - The village will start the new year with a new mayor and a new council member.
Former mayoral incumbent Dan Wilczynski, right, speaks to Walbridge residents in 2011. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Mayor Dan Wilczynski, who has been ferociously criticized by the majority of council over the last year for missing too many meetings, announced Sunday that he is resigning immediately. Councilman Pat Fox, who has served the village on and off since the 1990s, quit on Monday, saying he no longer felt like part of the team.
Wilczynski, in a phone interview on Monday, said a legal opinion that probably would have forced him out as mayor convinced him to resign.
At its last meeting in December, council asked Solicitor Brian Ballenger to hire outside legal counsel for $5,000 to decide if Wilczynski was violating the Ohio Revised Code. Council president Ed Kolanko said his research found that the mayor should attend three-fifths of the meetings in a two-year period, and Wilczynski had not.
The mayor said Ballenger informed him last week that there was an opinion that upheld Kolanko's statement.
Wilczynski said he also had the option to fight the opinion - at Walbridge's expense.
"I've been fiscally conservative this entire time," he said. "I can't see dragging the village through this."
Kolanko said Wilczynski has been violating the law by missing meetings, and it had to be addressed. Over the last year, when Wilczynski was absent, the majority of council - Kolanko, Sue Hart-Douglas, Jan Sawaya and Fred Sloyer, would vote against excusing the mayor.
"The attendance is definitely the issue that is first and foremost, and it's the only issue that council's brought forward," Kolanko said.
Council next meets on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the town hall. Kolanko said he's researching what the transition will be and how appointments can be made.
"There's drama involved, but I think we can all say Dan Wilczynski has done some good things for the village," Kolanko said. "We'll move on in a positive manner and do what's best for the village."
When he ran for re-election in 2011, Wilczynski, who works for BP, was candid about his absences, saying he could be out of town 20 weeks a year. He received 447 votes; Ron Liwo got 319 and Al Murphy had 339.
Kolanko said he can't consider the populous vote when looking at Wilczynski's missed meetings.
"That's almost irrelevant. Ohio law is Ohio law and we're all supposed to follow it," he said. "Dan has done a lot of good things for the village throughout the years, but his time in the village has been dwindling."
Fox said he had been considering resigning for some time but that the last council meeting was the last straw.
"That was the first time I heard of them going for Dan's throat," Fox said of the request for the legal opinion. He has been on council since August 2009, and also served previously in the 1990s.
Councilman Nathan Eikost, a supporter of Wilczynski's, said he could always reach the mayor by phone, text or e-mail.
"I wish he was at more council meetings, but I think he does a fantastic job irregardless," Eikost said.
There were several accomplishments Wilczynski, who is 52, cited over the past few years. He was a councilman for three years before being appointed mayor in February 2003 when Robert Robson abruptly resigned.
"We did a great job of getting the positive aspects of Walbridge back in the papers and back in the news," Wilczynski said.
He also said the administration treated everyone the same, rather "than let it be run by who's screaming the loudest."
The mayor said he also worked hard to keep businesses in the village and solicit new ones. He said he just had a meeting over the holidays with the owner of business interested in relocating to Walbridge from Toledo, "but I doubt they'll come now."
Wilczynski said he will not be involved in future village affairs.
"No, I'm not going to be active. They clearly want me out," he said. "I hope the residents, if they're unhappy with this decision with council, I hope they make that known to them."