Crestwood mayor breaks tie to name Miguel president of Board of Aldermen

By BURKE WASSON

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen is tied up no more after Mayor Roy Robinson broke a 4-4 stalemate last week to elect Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel as its new board president.

The Board of Aldermen was without a president after members split April 25 on the question of whether Miguel or Ward 4 Alderman Pat Duwe should fill the post.

While that first vote was done by secret ballot, aldermen chose to cast their votes for board president out in the open May 9.

Miguel was supported by Ward 1 Alderman Richard Breeding, Ward 3 Alderman Gregg Roby, Ward 4 Alderman Steve Nieder and himself. Duwe also voted for herself for board president, and Ward 1 Alderman Richard Bland, Ward 2 Alderman Jim Kelleher and Ward 2 Alderman Chris Pickel followed suit.

City Attorney Rob Golterman had informed aldermen that the board has 45 days from the city’s April 4 election to decide on a new board president. Because that 45-day deadline passes Friday, the board had to elect a president in its last meeting before that deadline.

Robinson said while he regrets that he was ever put in the position to break a tie, he points to Section 4.4 of the City Charter, which states: “The mayor shall preside at meetings of the Board of Aldermen, but shall not vote on any question except in case of a tie.”

As for his decision to choose Miguel, the mayor said he believes aldermen should essentially pass on the board president position to the alderman who has served longest and never served as president.

Because Duwe previously has, Robinson said he believes that Miguel is the best choice.

“I never had the opportunity to be president of the board when I was on the board either, so what I’m saying is let’s pass it around,” Robinson said. “It creates good feelings among the board members. I do not like to be put in this position because it’s the board’s decision that’s supposed to make these. But since it’s four to four, I broke the tie and we shall move on.”

The job of board president, which was vacated April 25 by former Ward 2 Alderman Tim Trueblood, who could not seek reelection because of term limits, essentially is to preside over board meetings in the event that the mayor cannot. Each board president serves a one-year term.

While board members chose to vote in public May 9 after previously using anonymous votes, Golterman said the board has the right to choose whatever fashion it votes on board president — secret or public.

“In my opinion, it can be done either way,” Golterman said. “I think it’s a procedural act of the board that the board can decide how they want to do it. At the end of the day, it’s got to be announced publicly who the new board president is. If any member of the board wants the board polled, they can ask to have the board polled. That’s how they voted. Again, it’s up to the board how they want to do that.”

The 4-4 tie itself that Robinson had to break was further discussed May 9 by aldermen and generally agreed upon as unfortunate.

Breeding went so far as to say that he would consider rescinding his nomination of Miguel by abstaining from the vote so that aldermen could move to more crucial issues.

“I just need to take this opportunity to apologize,” Breeding said. “Everything is so political around here. You can’t say one thing without everyone running somewhere with it. I almost want to recuse myself from this vote, and that way you’d at least have 4-3 and we can go on with the important business of what’s going on in the city. To just take it down to its bare minimum, the president of the Board of Aldermen really doesn’t do anything unless something happened to (the mayor). And … you know, one person hasn’t had an opportunity. Another person has. I thought that was kind of how we came up with it. But why everything’s got to be so political is beyond me. I’m guilty myself of it in the past. But it’s time to move on, agree on something and make something simple.”

Former Alderman Don Maddox addressed the board before it voted May 9 to say that the 4-4 vote breeds the kind of animosity and division among aldermen that he warned them against April 25 in his farewell speech. He said the board used to have a standing policy of voting for the alderman who has served the most years and never been president and that to not go along with that practice would be to further divide the board. He said he believes the 2005 election of Trueblood was done by aldermen as a way to combat the election of Robinson as mayor.

“As I see the situation, the only reason for not passing it on to individuals who did not serve in the past is simply to maintain the bitterness and the division that resulted because of the board being split in a mayoral election,” Maddox said. “And because of that split, there are hard feelings between various members of the board.

“One of the new aldermen in his SunCrest Call interview pointed out that one of the city’s problems is divided leadership. And I quote: ‘There’s too much division within Crestwood and that threatens our future.’ Yet that new alderman undoubtedly voted for Alderman Duwe for the purpose of punishing Alderman Miguel and continued board division. I think it’s time to move on from the 2005 election and return to a harmonious board willing to work together and accept each other’s contributions with respect.”

Pickel, whose quote Maddox read aloud to the board, defended his vote for Duwe by saying that he was not thinking of strategic maneuvering on the board, but rather who he believes was the best candidate.

“Alderman Maddox was quoting from some of the things that I submitted to the Call during the campaign,” he said. “And my vote two weeks ago was not a vote against Jerry Miguel, it was a vote for Pat Duwe. And the reason I did that as a new alderman, having been on the job all of 10 minutes or so when we took that vote, was familiarity. I am familiar with Pat through my long-term membership in the Chamber of Commerce. I’m aware of the work she’s done in the community. That was my decision.”