GEORGETOWN, Ohio — A shake-up in the local Georgetown government led two village council members to resign in protest. Thursday night, two of three vacant positions were filled, but some community members are asking if the village could have waited to find more candidates.
The drama began when village administrator Tyler Thompson died suddenly. Mayor Dale Cahall appointed someone for the job, but two council members protested the appointment -- all the way to their resignations.
That was less than 48 hours ago.
Many folks inside the village council meeting Thursday were supportive of the new council member and administrator, but some are questioning the process.
“We haven’t even had a newspaper cycle in our little town,” said Georgetown Village Council member Steven Wolfe.
The first order of business at Thursday night’s meeting: Nancy Montgomery is nominated for one of the two empty seats, and the council is split.
“I break the tie as a yes, so Nancy Montgomery will become a member of Village Council,” Cahall said.
When asked if 48 hours was enough time for citizens to come forward to challenge for one of the two empty seats, Cahall said, “It was up to council, according to Ohio state law and our charter, that they have up to 30 days to fill the seats but they can fill them in two seconds if they wish.”
For the city administrator position, some Georgetown residents had concerns with the way in which the position was filled. The village charter doesn’t require interviews.
“If we’re going to advertise for a $16-an-hour parks position, seek applications, seek candidates to interview, surely we should do that for a position that pays $70,000 a year,” resident Nick Owens said.
He asked for an extra week for more candidates to come forward.
“We have grants out there, deadlines, due dates,” council member Kelly Cornette said. “We’re at the risk of losing money. We have to start moving forward and reacting quickly.”
The administrator handles day-to-day operations for the city, and the mayor said there’s no time to wait.
“It’s a good process if you have the time and no need to get expired things done,” Cahall said. “That wasn’t the case.”
Former village administrator Art Owens was voted in, but he won’t start for 30 days.
“Really, it’s an affront to the citizens of Georgetown that such a critical position didn’t have more transparency and openness to allow for all the qualified candidates who wanted to apply. To put forward in, and be vetted,” Owens said.