Three members of the New Buffalo City Council selected native resident Mark Robertson to fill the seat vacated by the departure of John Peterson at a Special Council Meeting Thursday, Oct. 13, bringing the council to five members again.
Following a very contentious opening to the meeting, Councilmembers heard from the candidates that were applying to fill the vacated seat: Lea Grzywacz, Kevin Huber, Chuck Krametbauer and Diane Nichols; Bill McCollum was unable to attend but submitted his resume. Ray Kirkus, who had applied, withdrew his name at the meeting. He stated he was running in the recall election against Mayor Lou O’Donnell IV and would withdraw from consideration.
Robertson stated that he has attended City Council, Planning Commission and DDA meetings for more than four years and felt he could bring valuable insight to the Council. He pledged to review all the matters before the Council for consideration in the future.
Councilmembers said they felt that Robertson brought added diversity to the Council and that he was very informed from attending many years of monthly Council, Planning Commission and DDA meetings. They also commented on the fact that they felt Robertson was an open minded and fair-thinking person.
“I have seen your face at every meeting, you have been here your whole life and I am glad to see your name was submitted,” said O’Donnell.
The meeting opened with Councilmember Donna Messinger reading a statement in which she alluded to information on a sequestered audio tape. The tape in question is part of an ongoing Ethics Complaint investigation being conducted for the City by Attorney Sara Bell. All of the councilpersons were instructed by City Attorney Matt Derby at the Monday, Oct. 17, Special Council Meeting not to discuss the matter until the investigation is completed and made public. Following her statement, she walked off of the dais and left the building. Messinger did not participate in the selection of the new Councilmember.
Before the Council interviewed the candidates, City property owner Ezra Scott challenged them, stating that they could not move forward with their selection because, per the City Charter, they did not have a proper quorum to vote. O’Donnell took a half hour recess to review Scott’s charges with the City attorneys and review the Charter himself; however, he found Scott’s remarks to have no basis of fact. When asked by O’Donnell where he got his information, Scott stated that he must have made a mistake. The City Charter, in fact, did allow for three members, a majority of the Council, to vote on the new member appointment. The meeting resumed, with Robertson being selected unanimously by the three remaining members, O’Donnell, Bob Spirito and Marl Kroll. Robertson’s term is through November 2018.