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Respect and Compromise are Needed to Move the City Forward

On January 3rd the City of Wildwood held a special meeting in an attempt to install co-interim city adminstrators while a search is completed for a new full-time replacement for Ryan Thomas who resigned as City Administrator last December.

The ad-hoc committee tasked with finding candidates to fill the position put forward a resolution that sought to have Planning & Parks Director Joe Vujnich and Current City Treasurer Stephen Cross serve as co-interim city administrators.

The task was complicated by several factors. To begin with the current municipal code does not allow for a city employee to serve in the capacity of Treasurer. Since the city administrator position is that of an employee, Mr. Cross would have to resign his position as treasurer to serve a a co-interim city administrator. Next, since Mr. Cross wishes to continue to serve as treasurer, a role he has filled for 15 years, he would have to be renominated by the mayor for the position after competing his service as co-interim city administrator.

Although it seems rather straightforward that the Treasurer could resign and then be renominated, several council members were concerned that the Mayor would not renominate Cross. As an attempt to handcuff the Mayor, Councilman Woerther put forward language to a resolution that would in effect automatically reappoint Mr Cross after his service as co-interim administrator.

This proposal was found by the City's Attorney to be in conflict with Wildwood's charter since the Charter gives the authority to nominate a treasurer to the Mayor.

To resolve this conflict Councilman Taylor, Ward 4, made a motion that would state that the intent of the council and mayor was for Mr. Cross to be reappointed after his interim service as administrator. In response to direct inquiry, the Mayor stated that "barring death or malfeasance" he "would" renominate Mr. Cross as treasurer. (You can watch yourself on the live stream. Statement starts around 47:30 on the feed.)

During debate of the resolution, Mayor Bowlin stated that he would not sign the resolution if it contained Woerther's language since it was in conflict with the Charter. He had however stated that he would sign Taylor's compromise language.

Unfortunately, even though Mr. Cross stated that he trusted the Mayor to reappoint him, the Mayor's public statement of intent was not sufficient for some members of the council. (You can find Mr. Cross's statement on the live stream. It starts around 1:36:40 on the feed.) In an apparent attempt to handcuff the Mayor and disregarding the City Attorney's opinion that it would be in violation of the Charter, a majority of the council voted for Woerther's resolution.

To date the Mayor has not signed the ordinance and has stated that he will not do so. Moreover, the City Attorney has stated that an override would have no authority regarding an appointment.

As a result the city has failed to appoint any interim city administrator.

Sadly, all that it would have taken to avoid such an impasse would have been a little respect for both the charter and the office of Mayor and a willingness to compromise. Without the ability for city officials to compromise, the residents of Wildwood will not be well served.

Paid by Steve Taylor