Earlier today, I submitted my resignation from the Germantown Hills Village Board. I’m sure that some will wonder, “Why resign now?” Hopefully this article will answer that and other questions.
This was not a decision made lightly or quickly. My wife and I and a few close friends have been talking about this for months. In the last couple of weeks, I spoke to several more supporters to get their views. And from that counsel, I believe that this is the right thing to do now.
The people who know me well understand that my values do not allow me to simply ignore breaches of integrity, such as lying, deceit, hypocrisy, and treachery. I also challenge incompetence, and especially abuse of employees. There is no need to state examples of this; much of it is already been described elsewhere in this website. A good politician would probably not let these things bother him. So if I’m not to be known as a “good politician,” I’ll accept that as a compliment. With that as background, here is what led to my decision to resign:
As the recent spring elections approached, Mike Gaetz and I set out to explain to the residents of Germantown Hills what was happening in their community, so that they could make informed decisions in the election. The results of our effort were mixed. Each side lost one of their incumbent candidates. And consequently, nothing changed on the current Village Board that would lead to much improvement.
Which brings us to today. For many years, I was proud of the fact that Germantown Hills Boards had a reputation for professionalism and decorum. That has not been the case since the 2009 election. The Woodford reporter recently told me that in all of his years covering various forms of government bodies, this is the worst he has ever seen. I talk to many people in and out of government who look at Germantown Hills now as a laughing-stock.
I can no longer be a part of that. I take pride in my first twenty years as a Village Board member. I’m ashamed of the Village Board during the last two. And if I stay on the Village Board, it is highly likely that the acrimony will continue. That is because I will be compelled to hold the opposition accountable for their performance, and I expect that they will continue to rail on me for doing so. And for the many who stay back and watch the fray, it will continue to come across as juvenile bickering.
On the other hand, if I leave now, our opposition will no longer have their declared enemy sitting on the Village Board. So instead of having Board meetings playing out as a battle of wills, the actual performance of the Village Board will again become the focus. There will be nothing for them to hide behind anymore.
I’ve already noticed that two of the newly elected or appointed Trustees have a predisposition to side with the Mayor. Yet my sense from listening to them and talking to people who know them, these are smart and independent-thinking people who are there to serve the community as best they can. I believe that with my presence and the animosity that produces, it will only delay how long it takes for them to come to their own understanding of what is working and what is not.
Going forward, either of two things will happen. One possibility is that the Mayor and his allies will continue to behave poorly. In that case, their performance will be more evident to the entire community, and they will be held accountable at the next election. On the other hand, perhaps they will improve their behavior. And if that happens, it will also be good for Germantown Hills.
There is one other issue that was brought up repeatedly from the people I spoke with in the last couple of weeks. A concern I heard over and over was that if I resigned, Mayor Mitchell might appoint Ken Slater to replace me. These people know that Trustee Slater’s incident with a Village employee put the Village into significant legal risk, and caused significant legal cost. For the Mayor to appoint him a second time would only amplify the legal risk.
The Mayor should also understand the political risk if he does this. Even if he does appoint Slater, the new Trustees will still need to approve that appointment. They will want to study what happened in the past, in detail, before they vote. More of that information will come out to the public. Hopefully the full Village Board would not approve the appointment if public opinion was against it.
In conclusion, I wasn’t elected to the Germantown Hills Village Board to fight a war, I was elected to serve the community. And for the good of the reputation of Germantown Hills, I have decided that the best way to serve that community is to resign now, at the beginning of the new Trustees’ terms. That will give them a clean start and an opportunity to re-establish a culture of civility on the Village Board.