Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Oak Creek Tuesday was an eventful day for Oak Creek's new mayor.
After spending the day shoveling snow, moving furniture and replacing ceiling tiles at the Colorado Bar & Grill, J. Elliott was sworn in as mayor during a special Oak Creek Town Board meeting.
Town Board members voted, 4-1, to have Elliott succeed former mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman, who didn't attend Tuesday's meeting because snowy weather forced her to remain in the small town of Bond. Elliott, who was mayor pro-tem, recused himself from the vote.
About 50 Oak Creek residents attended the meeting, which was scheduled for the sole purpose of appointing a mayor. That process got off to a peculiar start when Town Board member John Crawford made a motion that the names of all four people who had applied for the mayoral position - former Oak Creek Town Board member Bill Paxton, Rodeman, Elliott and Bill Norris - be dropped in a hat and the new mayor selected randomly. The motion quickly died after every other Town Board members and several people from the audience expressed their opposition.
Town Board member Dave Fisher then made a motion to appoint Elliott. That motion was seconded by Tom Bleuer. Board members Angie KenCairn, Crawford, Fisher and Bleuer voted for Elliott. Steve "Spike" Bevin cast the lone dissenting vote.
Although he is eager to move forward with town business, Elliott said he wished his appointment wouldn't have come about in this manner.
"It's not the way I wanted this to happen. I wish the whole mess had never happened. It wasn't necessary," he said. "It was a logical problem that could have been solved before it got emotional."
Elliott was referring to Rodeman's Oct. 13 resignation. At the time, Rodeman said she no longer could work with the current administration. Her announcement came on the heels of a Sept. 25 secret session meeting during which three town employees complained that Rodeman overstepped her boundaries and functioned like a town manager, not a mayor. The employees complained that Rodeman frequently interfered with their jobs. Rodeman denied the accusations.
Rodeman later asked to be reinstated as mayor, saying she had a made a mistake by resigning.
Tuesday's vote signaled a Town Board that was ready to move on without the three-time elected mayor.
But Elliott said he hopes Rodeman will still stay active in town business.
"There is no animosity. I think Cargo will come around. She loves Oak Creek : she is Oak Creek. I want her involved," he said.
Elliott said his main hope is that the town will start healing and move on from the controversy.
"We have a tremendous board. They're all very intelligent and capable," he said. "The board is very representative of the town : we have members representing the old-, medium- and new-timers."
Residents interested in taking over Elliott's Town Board seat must send a letter of interest by 5 p.m. Dec. 12. The new Town Board member will be appointed at the Town Board's Dec. 14 meeting.