Walbridge mayor has to cast deciding vote for council president

By Debbie Rogers, [email protected]

WALBRIDGE — A divided council will be led by last year’s president, with the mayor casting the deciding vote.

Karen Baron was elected council president on a 3-3 split vote, with Mayor Ed Kolanko deciding, at the first council meeting of the new year.

Before making his decision, he asked council for a second vote, but it remained 3-3.

Baron voted for herself, along with Sue Hart-Douglas and Ron Liwo.

Vicky Canales-Pratt was nominated for president and voted for herself, along with LaDenna Johnston and Larry Boday.

Baron said she wanted to serve again as council president.

“I enjoy working with people, the administration,” she said. “I have several goals for 2023.”

One goal is enlisting a group of retirees to beautify the village.

Baron said she can lead, even with a divided council.

“One of my goals is to overcome that. I would like us to be together as a unit and talk through differences we might have, to understand each other better,” she said. “We all have great ideas.”

Also at the meeting, Kolanko said that the village continues to deal with staffing issues.

Walbridge is losing two village employees, including the clerk of courts.

“It’s just an ongoing process, which I’m sure is not unique,” Kolanko said after the meeting.

Full-time police officer Adam Widman resigned to take a position at Clay Township, Kolanko said.

Rachel Hamilton, a former part-time police officer in the village, was hired again. Kolanko said she resigned from the village but realized she wants to stay part time instead of full time.

Christopher Schmidt was moved from auxiliary police to full time.

Two street employees, Dustin Haar and Michael Lewis, were promoted, at Kolanko’s recommendation.

“They’ve very much shown they are needed in the village,” Kolanko said. “These guys have done a good job and we can’t afford to lose these guys.”

Kolanko also invited council members to talk to him about goals for 2023.

“It’s an open invitation, just let me know,” he said.

Also at the meeting, council went into executive session to discuss pending litigation. No action was taken.